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States relaxing lockdowns as U.S. nears 1 million cases


Judge blocks 30-day extension of Illinois stay-at-home order

A southern Illinois judge on Monday blocked Governor JB Pritzker’s 30-day extension of the state’s stay-at-home order, granting a temporary restraining order sought by a Republican state lawmaker who argued the governor overstepped his authority.

CBS affiliate WCIA-TV reports Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney granted a restraining order to temporarily block the governor’s latest executive order Monday afternoon. Pritzker said the state Attorney General’s Office will appeal the ruling.

“My team and I will fight this legal battle to the furthest extent possible, to ensure the public health and commonsense, and that those prevail,” he said. “This ruling has put the people of Illinois at risk. I sincerely hope that this matter will be brought to a swift resolution so that we can go back to placing our undivided attention on the work of keeping people safe.”

Read more at CBS Chicago.


Los Angeles announces decontamination center for N95 masks

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Monday announced the opening of a COVID-19 Regional Decontamination Center, the first of its kind in the country.

The center, which will utilize an airtight decontamination center the size of a small dishwasher, will vaporize highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate equipment like N95 masks for reuse up to 20 times, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Personal protective equipment like N95 masks have been in high demand and short supply at hospitals and clinics across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The equipment will accommodate 10,000 masks per cycle and the department will run multiple decontamination cycles each day, Villanueva said.

Read more from CBS Los Angeles.

FILE PHOTO: Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota
File photo of N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M.

Nicholas Pfosi / REUTERS


California’s Orange County Fair canceled for the first time since WWII

The board overseeing the OC Fair voted unanimously Monday to cancel this year’s event due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual three-week event was scheduled to kick off on July 17.

The OC Fair attracted more than a million people in 2019, but officials made the decision to cancel after considering the recommendations of state and county health care officials and the improbability of mass gatherings this summer.

“While many of our guests have expressed extreme disappointment over the idea of the 2020 Fair being canceled, we strongly believe it is the right thing to do in this current situation,” board Chair Sandra Cervantes said in a statement.

The one other time the OC Fair had been canceled in its 130-year history was for World War II, between 1942 and 1947.

Read more at CBS Los Angeles.


White House testing and tracing guidance puts much of the burden on states

CBS News has obtained the White House’s new guidance given to states on how to test and trace for the coronavirus, a path forward that relies heavily on states with some assistance from the federal government.

A significant amount of the text in the documents, crafted by the White House, highlight things the administration has already done in the testing sphere. And while the White House says it will support states with some resources such as tracing assistance from the Centers for Disease Control, many of the sentences in the guideline begin with the words “states should.”

At the same time, Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, confirmed to CBS News that the Trump administration is prepared to send all 50 states enough tests to screen 2% of their population per month for the virus. 

Read more here.


Some Texas business will be able to reopen on Friday

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday announced plans to reopen businesses as the coronavirus pandemic continues, saying businesses will be reopened in phases beginning Friday, May 1. With Abbott’s new executive order, all retail stores, restaurants, malls, and theaters can reopen on Friday, but at 25% capacity.

Texans 65 years old and older are advised to stay home for now.

Barbershops, hairdressers, and gyms will not be able to reopen on Friday. They could open in “Phase 2,” which could begin as early as May 18. That would expand occupancy to 50%.

“We need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19,” he said.

Abbott pointed out, this order allows businesses to reopen. No business is forced to reopen. He said social distancing will remain very important.

“Because of your efforts, the COVID-19 rate has been on the decline for 17 days,” said Gov. Abbott.  “Our hospital capacity has remained abundant. At the same time, we cannot forget those who have lost their lives to COVID-19.  Our hearts remain with their loved ones.  Every life lost is a tragedy.”

Read more at CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

Protesters gather at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020, in Austin, Texas. 



Chicago police aware of video showing packed house party in violation of stay-at-home order

Police over the weekend busted up rowdy house parties in Chicago and said they were aware of a video depicting one party that went viral, CBS Chicago reports. The violations of the stay-at-home order to fight the coronavirus outbreak came as Illinois reported 2,126 new COVID-19 cases and 59 additional deaths Sunday. Chicago is at the center of one of the worst outbreaks in the U.S.

One video posted online purportedly shows a packed house at an undisclosed location apparently in Chicago. The party appeared so crowded that the person recording the footage chose not to wade into the crowd on the first floor.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the party “reckless and utterly unacceptable” in a tweet Sunday night.

“While most Chicagoans are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, reckless actions like these threaten our public health and risk erasing the progress we have made,” Lightfoot also tweeted. “We will hold those responsible accountable.”

Read more at here.


“Food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson warns amid meat plant shutdowns

Meat lines could be in the country’s future as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the industry, prompting the closures or curtailing of operations at pork, beef and poultry processing plants across the country. Tyson Foods Chairman John H. Tyson spelled it out in full-page newspaper advertisements, stating: “The food supply chain is breaking.”

The executive’s warning came days after Tyson shut down its large pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The closure is among dozens involving major companies, with a Smithfield Foods pork plant in South Dakota also out of commission. JBS USA temporarily shut its meatpacking plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Sunday after health officials traced at least 189 positive cases to the facility last week.

Read more here.


Ohio details plan to slowly reopen state

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Monday laid out a timeline for his state’s gradual reopening after the coronavirus outbreak caused statewide closures and high unemployment claims.

DeWine said that the state’s stay-at-home order “will still be in place” and restrictions will be in place for gatherings of more than 10 people.

The governor also mentioned two additional steps on the road to reopening: ramp up testing and do contact tracing at the same time.

May 1: Health care reopening will allow procedures that don’t require an overnight stay in a hospital. Dentists and veterinarians can also reopen.

May 4: General office environments can reopen, but work from home scenarios will be encouraged. Manufacturing, distribution and construction can reopen under strict guidelines.

May 12: Consumer, retail and services can reopen and employees are to wear masks. Social distancing measures should be followed, such as keeping 6 feet away from others.


Pennsylvania to reopen outdoor businesses, including golfing

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Monday announced that several outdoor businesses will reopen on May 1. Those businesses include golf courses, marinas, fishing trips and privately-owned campgrounds. They will be required to follow the social distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC.

Campgrounds in state parks, however, will remain closed through May 14.

“Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said in a statement. 

“As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”


Los Angeles Lakers to return money from federal loan program

The Los Angeles Lakers on Monday announced the team would be returning money it received from the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program meant to provide a boost to small business during the pandemic.

“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program. However, once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need,” the team said in a statement.

“The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”

Lakers logo
This 2017 image shows a Lakers jersey. 

Kevork Djansezian / Getty


Cuomo: New York deaths “tragically high” but lowest daily toll of April

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that New York had recorded 337 new deaths related to coronavirus, the lowest statewide daily death toll in April. The total was down from 367 a day earlier and the lowest daily death toll since March 30.

Cuomo called the new death toll “still tragically high, but on the decline.”

The governor also said his stay-at-home order will likely be extended beyond May 15 in many parts of the state. But he added that restrictions could be eased in some parts if they have sufficient hospital capacity and meet other criteria.

A new poll released by the Siena College Research Institute shows 46% of New Yorkers said they personally knew someone who had died from COVID-19. About 60% said that they knew someone who had tested positive.

The poll, which surveyed 803 registered state voters between April 19 and 23, found that 87% percent were in favor of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to extend New York’s lockdown until at least May 15.

Read more here.


CDC will release coronavirus tests priorities

The CDC will release new priorities for coronavirus testing Monday, including testing asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings. And the White House is set to unveil what it describes as a comprehensive overview of its efforts to make testing for COVID-19 more widely available.

The White House is aiming for states to have enough tests and needed supplies to test at least 2.6% of their populations per month — a figure needed to catch asymptomatic spread.

The administration is also releasing a “testing blueprint” for states, outlining how they should prioritize testing as they devising their reopening plans.

It includes a focus on surveillance testing, as well as “rapid response” programs to isolate those who test positive and identify those they came in contact with.

The administration aims to have the market “flooded” with tests for the fall, when COVID-19 is expected to recur alongside the seasonal flu.


Trump will hold briefing on virus response Monday

President Trump will hold a news briefing Monday from the Rose Garden on America’s response to the pandemic, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Twitter. 


Massachusetts governor says his state has “flattened the curve”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Monday said his state has “flattened the curve” of coronavirus cases in the state, though he added it will still take time for the number of cases to begin to decline.

“It seems to have plateaued, depending upon which part of Massachusetts you’re in,” said Baker. “The expectation is it will start to fall, but it will probably fall slowly.”

As of Sunday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 54,938 total cases with 2,899 total deaths in the state.

Read more at CBS Boston.


3 million coronavirus cases worldwide

More than 3 million people have been sickened by the coronavirus across the world as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, over 210,000 have died. The U.S. has been hit especially hard, with over 972,000 cases and 55,000 deaths. 


California businesses file lawsuit against governor, citing stay-at-home order

Some small business owners fed up with how stay-at-home orders are impacting them financially have filed a lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom. The Cielito Lindo restaurant and King’s Mobile Pet Spa are among the seven businesses named in the suit.

The lawsuit claims the orders violate the state Constitution as well as the fifth and 14th amendments.

They’re being represented by attorney Mark Geragos, who is asking a federal judge to strike down the orders and have state and county governments pay for losses. “Just because you can cite that people have died from this does not mean you get to suspend the constitution,” Geragos said.

Top medical experts across the country have argued that science shows there is a need for people to stay home as much as possible as the coronavirus continues to spread, and legal experts say this could be a tough case to win.

“The state has the power to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents,” said Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson. “I think at this moment, it might be hard to find a judge who’s amenable to these arguments.”

Read more at CBS Los Angeles.

coronavirus shutdown protest
Protesters ride cars around Los Angeles on April 22, 2020.



UN Secretary-General says extremists are taking advantage of virus lockdowns

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that extremist groups are taking advantage of COVID-19 lockdowns to intensify social media efforts to spread hatred and recruit young people who are spending more time online.

He said even before the coronavirus pandemic one of every five young people was not getting an education, training or working, and one of every four was affected by violence or conflict. And he lamented that every year, 12 million girls become mothers.

Guterres told a U.N. Security Council meeting Monday on youth, peace and security that “these frustrations and, frankly, failures to address them by those in power today, fuel declining confidence in political establishments and institutions.”

And he said, “when such a cycle takes hold, it is all too easy for extremist groups to exploit the anger and despair, and the risk of radicalization climbs.”

But despite these challenges, the U.N. chief said young people “are still finding ways to engage, support each other, and to demand and drive change” — including in the fight against COVID-19.

Guterres pointed to young people in Colombia, Ghana, Iraq and several other countries joining humanitarian workers in delivering supplies to front-line health workers and people in need, keeping communications open within communities while maintaining social distancing. He said young people are also supporting his March 23 call for a cease-fire in all conflicts in the world.


New York state cancels presidential primary

New York state, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, will be taking the unprecedented step of canceling the June 23 presidential primary amid the pandemic, the Board of Elections said Monday. That means Bernie Sanders will not have the chance to appear on the ballot in the state and Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, will get all the 274 pledged delegates.

“I think that it’s time for us to recognize that the presidential contest is over,” said Doug Kellner, the chairman of the Board of Elections. “Joe Biden is the only candidate and therefore, he has effectively won the New York primary.”

The primary had initially been scheduled for April 28 but was postponed to June 23. Congressional and local elections set to be held on June 23 are still expected to be held on that date.

Read more here.


NYC announces “self-swab” coronavirus testing, hopes to hire 1,000 contact tracers

New York City is looking to streamline the coronavirus testing process and hire 1,000 health care professionals for its contact tracing program. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said both testing and tracing will be key to reopening the economy.

The mayor on Monday announced a new “self-swab” testing method.

“Much simpler, much easier for everyone involved, no chance to cause the same kind of sneezing that that long swab way up the nose does,” he said at the daily coronavirus briefing. “Simpler but also safer, especially for that health care worker, so many of whom have been putting their lives on the line now for weeks and weeks.”

Read more at CBS New York.


Federal judge imposes social distancing requirements on Cook County Jail

A federal judge is requiring additional social distancing efforts at Chicago’s Cook County Jail but has again denied a request to release hundreds of inmates due to the coronavirus threat.

Attorneys representing inmates inside Cook County Jail claim Sheriff Tom Dart’s office hasn’t done enough to protect inmates from the novel coronavirus and has made an ongoing request for the mass release of vulnerable detainees. 

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered the Sheriff’s Office to ensure sanitation, testing, social distancing at intake, and protective equipment for inmates; but so far, the judge has denied requests to release inmates en masse.

Kennelly on Monday issued a new preliminary injunction requiring more sweeping social distancing measures at the jail — including mandatory COVID-19 testing of all inmates who exhibit symptoms of the disease, and of those exposed to others who have tested positive or shown symptoms; and suspension of the use of bullpens and multi-person cells during intake.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office also must provide enough soap or hand sanitizer to all inmates to allow them to frequently wash their hands as well as supplies to regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

Kennelly also gave jail officials until Friday to implement new policies banning double-celling of inmates, except in limited circumstances, such as when detainees are being quarantined after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, or if they are on suicide watch. The judge also is requiring the jail to use dormitory-style housing, where inmates sleep in large rooms on cots, only if those areas are at less than 50% capacity, to allow detainees to stay at least six feet away from each other.

Read more at CBS Chicago.

Chicago Jail Investigation
This 2006 photo shows Chicago’s Cook County Jail

Jeff Roberson / AP


Beef production plant closes in Wisconsin

A beef production plant in Green Bay has become the latest to shut down due to coronavirus infections among employees. JBS USA announced Sunday that the JBS Packerland plant would be closed temporarily. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that at least 189 COVID-19 infections had been linked to JBS Packerland as of Friday.

The state Department of Health Services says the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in Brown County overall grew to 776 on Sunday.

The JBS Packerland plant employs more than 1,200 people and feeds nearly 3.2 million people per day. The company said employees will be paid during the closure.

JBS earlier closed plants in Souderton, Pennsylvania; Greeley, Colorado; and Worthington, Minnesota. The first two plants have since reopened.

JBS and other meat processors say they’ve taken a variety of steps to reduce the chances of workers spreading the virus to each other, including adding plexiglass barriers between workers, stressing social distancing and providing personal protective gear.


46% of New Yorkers knew someone killed by virus, poll shows

Almost half of New Yorkers knew someone who died of the new coronavirus, according to a poll Monday which found overwhelming support for confinement measures opposed elsewhere in America. More than 16,000 New York City residents are thought to have succumbed to COVID-19, out of at least 153,000 confirmed infections, since the Big Apple declared its first case in early March.

Some 46% of people in NYC surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute said they personally knew someone who had passed away from the deadly virus.

Sixty percent responded that they knew someone who had tested positive.

The poll quizzed 803 registered state voters between April 19 and 23.

Virus Outbreak New York
Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York.

John Minchillo / AP


Paycheck Protection Program resumes lending, but experts say funds won’t last long

The Paycheck Protection Program, the small business relief fund authorized by Congress’s coronavirus aid package known as the CARES Act, resumes lending on Monday.

President Trump signed the bill Friday that authorizes an additional $310 billion in funds for the program, which offers forgivable, 1% interest loans for companies with 500 employees or fewer. That’s on top of the $350 billion that was loaned out in the first round of the program in a mere two weeks. The loans are completely forgivable if the companies use at least 75% of the federally backed money to pay and retain employees.

But the rush to get funds will likely cause the second round of funding to go fast, experts say. The Small Business Administration said over the weekend that it would allow banks to submit complete applications in bulk starting Monday.

What the future of business could look like after pandemic

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that his bank had $50 billion in applications ready for the second round of PPP funds. JPMorgan Chase also said it has 150,000 applications ready to go, with thousands more in the works.

Click here to read more.


12th inmate dies of COVID-19 at Michigan prison where more than half of inmates are infected

A 12th inmate has died from COVID-19 complications at a southern Michigan prison where more than 50% of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Corrections Department said Monday.

Lakeland prison in Branch County has a large share of the department’s older prisoners and is the first to test everyone.

The department said 785 of roughly 1,400 prisoners at Lakeland have tested positive. Only a fraction of all prisoners have been tested statewide, but the infection rate was 56%.

Among staff, 254 have tested positive and there have been two deaths, the department said. 

Prison in the time of coronavirus

Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit Sunday to try to force the release of immigrants with health problems at the Calhoun County jail. The jail has approximately 130 people who are being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Civil immigration detention should not be a death sentence,” ACLU attorney Eunice Cho said.


Coronavirus and gun violence: Some U.S. mayors wrestling a “perfect storm” of health crises

A national gun safety advocacy group is offering up new guidelines for mayors now struggling to manage two public health crises at the same time — COVID-19 and gun violence. In guidelines set to be released on Monday, Everytown for Gun Safety is urging mayors to prioritize gun violence intervention programs, which have seen success using outreach teams to stop violence before it starts. Gun violence has for years disproportionately impacted communities of color struggling with health care inequalities, unemployment, poverty and lower levels of education. Now, those same communities are hardest hit by coronavirus, and advocates say the two crises have created a “perfect storm.”

“Systemic structural inequality creates an environment in which a public health epidemic, whether it’s gun violence or COVID, can thrive,” said Michael-Sean Spence, director of policy and implementation for Everytown for Gun Safety. “Even before COVID, there was a lack of investment in social services we now see they need most in times of crisis.”

Activists help minority communities hit hardest by coronavirus


Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson to donate blood for coronavirus treatment research

After testing positive for COVID-19 in March, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson kept the world posted on their journey, becoming symbols of hope when they announced they had recovered in April. Hanks has now revealed that he and his wife are donating blood to aid research on a potential coronavirus treatment.

In an interview for the NPR show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” host Peter Sagal asked Hanks about life post-coronavirus.

“Well, a lot of the question is, ‘What now?’ You know?” Hanks said. “What do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies.”  

Guest host Peter Grosz asked Hanks, “Can we harvest your blood?” 

“Yes,” Hanks replied. “We have not only been approached, we have said, ‘Do you want our blood? Can we give plasma?’ And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine,” the actor joked.

Click here to read more.


France plans to have 26 million non-medical face masks available to public by weekend

France plans to have over 26 million non-medical face masks available for purchase by the end of this week as the country prepares to gradually lift its coronavirus lockdown, deputy finance minister Agnes-Pannier Runacher said Monday.

“With the ramped-up production and increased imports, there will be more than 26 million masks for the general public, most of which can be reused 20 times, available each week by end-April,” Runacher said during a conference call.

Nearly half of the masks, made with washable fabrics, will be made in France by some 240 textile companies that stepped up as officials admitted a shortage of surgical masks for health workers. 

Lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris
Commuters wearing protective face masks make their way along a suburban train platform as they arrive at the Gare du Nord RER station in Paris during a lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus in France, April 27, 2020.


The masks will have a number indicating how many times they can be washed before losing their effectiveness.

Runacher added that French production of surgical and the more protective FFP2 or N95 filtering masks has increased to 10 million a week from just 3.5 million before the COVID-19 outbreak in the country in March.


France introduces AI-based national helpline to streamline COVID-19 diagnoses

France launched a new COVID-19 helpline on Monday that uses artificial intelligence to help residents determine whether they should seek medical help for a possible infection. 

Callers to the “AlloCovid” line speak to an AI-enhanced computer that guides them through a series of diagnostic questions, with simple yes or no answers. The machine then suggests followup action if required.

It takes just three minutes and doctors hope it will allow even more people to easily check symptoms, and add to France’s data on the spread of the coronavirus.


Doctor says “I don’t think we know” yet if it’s possible to get COVID-19 twice

The World Health Organization has warned there’s currently no evidence that people who’ve recovered from the coronavirus are protected from a second infection. More than 260 patients in South Korea have retested positive after it was thought they’d recovered, according to the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raising questions about whether the virus can be reactivated.

Colorado nurse practitioner Lisa Merck tested positive for coronavirus in March. As a health care worker, Merck gets repeat tests, so she knows when she can safely return to work. On day 21 of isolation, she tested negative. But just seven days later, she got a retest and was shocked to learn she was again positive for COVID-19.

“This is really scary to me,” she told CBS News senior medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula. “It’s really confusing. It’s very frustrating.”

Merck said she suspects the negative test was a false negative, but said “there’s no way to tell” if it was for sure, or whether she might have become infected again.

Click here to read more.

No evidence antibodies protect people from second COVID-19 infection, WHO says


Drones used in effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 raising privacy concerns

All over the world, public health and safety officials are employing drones to monitor public spaces and enforce social distancing rules aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We’re not telling people to get out. We’re not enforcing as far as having them go. We’re just making the announcement for public safety reasons,” said Sergeant Tim Ehrenkaufer of efforts to use the technology in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

The Daytona Beach Police Department is one of 43 agencies in 21 states to receive a donations from drone manufacturer DJI, which gave away 100 of the devices as part of its disaster relief program. 

The efforts, while widespread, are raising some concerns about personal privacy.

Click here to read more.

Drones monitoring public spaces raise privacy concerns


Restoration work to resume at fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral after COVID-19 lockdown delay

Restoration work on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was set to resume Monday, more than a year after it was heavily damaged by a fire that gutted the Gothic building.  

Restoration work on the cathedral was halted in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic gripped France and virtually all business was halted. Now it’s resuming, albeit slowly.

Several large companies have donated hand sanitizer, food and lodging for the crews working on the structure, who will stay in nearby hotels to avoid having to use public transport.

The first job is to redo access areas so workers can adhere to social distancing rules while showering and changing into hazmat gear, because the virus isn’t the only worry; there’s still considerable lead pollution on site.

One year after devastating fire, coronavirus delays Notre Dame’s restoration

France has started to see progress in reining in one of Europe’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, but nationwide lockdown measures are to remain in place until May 11.


India to return 500,000 faulty COVID-19 rapid test kits to two Chinese companies

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the government body tasked with coordinating the massive nation’s coronavirus testing in efforts, has advised state governments to stop using COVID-19 rapid test kits procured from two Chinese companies, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.

Last week the ICMR put use of the kits on hold after several complaints that they were giving inaccurate results. The ICMR then evaluated the test kits and found “wide variation in their sensitivity despite early promise of good performance for surveillance purposes.” 

A letter from ICMR to state authorities tells them to “stop using these kits… and return them to be sent back to the suppliers.” 

The government confirmed that it had cancelled the order for the 500,000 test kits, which would be returned to the two companies, and said payments had not yet been made for them.

ICMR told state authorities to rely instead on the “RT-PCR throat/nasal swab test” to diagnose COVID-19 cases.


Millions join national work day as leader of Belarus continues to scoff at “coronapsychosis”

Belarus held a national community day of civic labor over the weekend, with millions of people joining efforts despite concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in the country. President Alexander Lukashenko, a hardliner who has ruled the country for a quarter of a century has dismissed the pandemic and refused to institute any control measures as it continues to spread.

Belarusian officials have confirmed at least 11,289 cases and 75 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday, though critics say the real numbers are unknown.

The International Labor Organization and Belarusian trade unions had called for the authorities to cancel the traditional Saturday “subbotnik” — a Soviet-era practice of unpaid civic labor — amid concerns over the escalating outbreak in the country. Nevertheless, 2.3 million state employees, including health care professionals, took part in the work. The president himself planted trees at a national park with his dog.

People take part in "Subbotnik", a day of volunteer community work on Saturday, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Minsk
People take part in “Subbotnik,” a day of volunteer community work, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Minsk, Belarus, April 25, 2020.

Vasily Fedosenko/REUTERS

In remarks posted online, Lukashenko dismissed most of the world’s reaction to the pandemic as “coronapsychosis.” The same day, Belarus reported 817 new virus cases, its record one-day increase.

While neighboring Russia and European countries have been introducing strict lockdown measures in recent weeks, Lukashenko has continued to scoff at the disease and insisted nobody was going to die of coronavirus in his country. He has blamed the reported deaths on underlying causes.


One New Mexico mayor defying state shutdown orders to let small businesses reopen

The mayor of Grants, New Mexico, a city with a population of about 9,000, has told small businesses they can reopen from Monday, defying the governor’s order for all non-essential businesses to remain shuttered amid the coronavirus crisis.

Mayor Martin Hicks said last week that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had given his city no choice because her state health order was hurting the city so badly economically. CBS affiliate KRQE-TV said Hicks issued his order after 81 Grants businesses signed a petition calling for the reopening.

Virus Outbreak-New Mexico
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a news conference on the floor of the state House of Representatives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on March 18, 2020.

Morgan Lee/AP

“There will be a confrontation down here. I guarantee you,” Hicks told The Associated Press on Friday. “I’ve ordered the police to stop any State Police officer who comes into town and tries to shut them down.”

But Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace later told KRQE that while he sides with Hicks, he would not stand in the way of state police citing local businesses. He said he would only ask that state officers be compassionate with business owners.

Click here to read more.


Trump urged to scale back daily coronavirus briefings after last week’s tumult

President Trump did not appear in public over the weekend to address the nation about the ongoing coronavirus crisis, but he did speak out on Twitter, bashing his political enemies and accusing the media of wrongly characterizing his initial response to the epidemic in the U.S.   

A senior adviser has told CBS News that some of the president’s aides and allies outside the White House have urged him to scale back the daily White House briefings on the virus. Those calls came as Mr. Trump suggested during the Thursday briefing at the White House that scientists should look into the possibility of injecting COVID-19 patients with “disinfectant,” which he later claimed was sarcasm.    

Watch the video below for Ben Tracy’s report on what members of the coronavirus task force are saying now.

Trump urged to scale back on virus briefings after contradictions by health experts


Spain authorities warn residents to keep social distancing as families enjoy limited new freedom

Health authorities in Spain are urging parents to be responsible and abide by social distancing rules a day after some beach fronts and city promenades filled with families eager to enjoy the first stroll out in six weeks.
Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s health emergency coordination center, said Monday that rules to keep a 6.5-foot distance from other families and for going outdoors only once a day, for one hour, and at most three children at a time accompanied by one adult, were generally respected on Sunday.
But he said that some images of crowds were “concerning.”
“The impact in the epidemic can be a step backwards that can be much harder than what we have seen until now,” Simón warned.

Family members walk at promenade of Las Canteras beach after restrictions were partially lifted for children for the first time in six weeks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on the island of Gran Canaria
Family members walk at promenade of Las Canteras beach after restrictions were partially lifted for children for the first time in six weeks, following the coronavirus outbreak on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, on April 26, 2020.



Afghan leader orders release of more than 12,000 prisoners to help curb spread of COVID-19

To help control the spread of the coronavirus, Afghanistan‘s President Ashraf Ghani ordered the release Monday of 12,399 prisoners from prisons across the country. The release will happen as soon as possible, with prisoners being identified for release based on their crimes.

Those eligible will have been convicted of crimes including corruption and other offenses that are deemed to make them a minimal threat to the public, according to Rashid Totakhil, Afghanistan’s prisons director. He urged the soon-to-be released detainees and their families to quarantine themselves for 14 days following the releases.

The Afghan government is also taking precautionary measures to prevent major outbreaks inside prisons, including testing prisoners to identify any possible COVID-19 patients. According to Totakhil, a 50-bed hospital will be inaugurated soon inside Kabul’s central prison to treat any COVID-19 patients. He said more hospitals for prisoners are under construction and will soon be available.

Afghan prisoners prepare to be released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a June 14, 2018, file photo.

Rahmat Gul/AP

President Ghani had previously ordered the release of 10,000 prisoners to stop the spread of the virus, and 6,000 have already been released.

According to the director of prisons, there are about 36,000 people detained in Afghan prisons. None of the prisoners set to go free are among the 5,000 detainees set to be released under the separate U.S.-Taliban peace agreement.

Ahmad Mukhtar


Almost 2 million chickens to be slaughtered but not eaten due to staff shortages at plants

Coronavirus-related staffing shortages at chicken processing plants will lead farms in Maryland and Delaware to destroy nearly 2 million chickens.

The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that the plants are unable to keep pace with the number of birds that are ready for harvest. They had been placed into poultry houses as chicks several weeks ago. The chickens will not be processed for meat.

The trade group the Delmarva Poultry Industry said that every poultry plant on the Delmarva Peninsula has struggled with a reduced worker attendance. The reasons include workers being sick with the virus and people following guidance to stay home if sick.

The Perdue Wellness Center is seen in Georgetown, Delaware, within walking distance of a Perdue chicken processing plant.



Migrants deported by U.S. make up 20% of Guatemala’s coronavirus cases

When it unveiled an unprecedented order last month to swiftly expel virtually all unauthorized migrants from the U.S. southern border, the Trump administration said potentially infected foreigners could spread the coronavirus in the U.S., prompt outbreaks in immigration jails and strain public health resources along border communities. But in a paradoxical twist, Guatemala fears the U.S. is exporting the virus there through its deportation policy.

Guatemala has been the largest source of migration to that border in recent years.  

At least 99 migrants recently deported to Guatemala by the U.S. had tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, according to the nation’s public health ministry. Deportees from the U.S. make up nearly 20% of the 500 coronavirus cases in Guatemala, which has had 15 pandemic-related deaths.

Click here to read more.

Virus Outbreak Guatemala
A man is disinfected by a health worker at the site where Guatemalans returned from the U.S. are being held in Guatemala City, on April 17, 2020.

Moises Castillo / AP


Chinese officials say epicenter city of Wuhan has no more COVID-19 patients in hospitals

Wuhan, the city at the center of China’s coronavirus outbreak, has no more hospitalized patients after the last 12 were discharged Sunday, the Hubei province health commission said.

Hubei’s remaining patients were all in Wuhan, the provincial capital where the outbreak took the heaviest toll in China. The 3,869 people who died in the city account for more than 80% of the country’s reported deaths.

“It is a historic day,” said a report in a newspaper owned by the Wuhan government and posted on the city’s website.

Hubei has no more suspected cases in its hospitals, though 1,728 people who had close contact with an infected person remain under medical observation, the province’s health commission reported Monday.

Patients remain hospitalized elsewhere in China, including 67 in Shanghai and three in Beijing. Many cities have seen an influx of cases from overseas, prompting the government to curtail international flights and entry sharply.

New coronavirus infections in Asia spur fears of resurgence


Volkswagen Group, world’s biggest automaker, slowly ramping back up after a month of shutdown

After seeing its plants across Europe and North America shuttered for almost a month and a half amid the coronavirus pandemic, Volkswagen Group is slowly resuming vehicle production at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The world’s largest automaker has been burning through about 2 billion euros every week in costs with its factory floors  silent. But on Monday it brought 8,000 employees back to work in Wolfsburg after reworking its production line to allow for social distancing.

The manufacturing site, which is the size of Monaco and is usually staffed by almost 70,000 people, will initially operate at just 10% to 15% of its capacity, with only about 1,400 vehicles expected to come off the assembly lines this week.

Volkswagen Resumes Automobile Production At Wolfsburg Plant During The Coronavirus Crisis
An employee wears a face mask on the production line at the Volkswagen Group Wolfsburg Plant, April 27, 2020 in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Swen Pförtner/Pool/Getty

Employees have been asked to take their temperatures every morning before coming to work, and several hundred hand washing facilities have been installed throughout the plant.

Volkswagen’s decision to restart production will be a boost to the wider European auto industry, as some 2,600 supplying companies, most of them also German, ramping up their own facilities to provide parts for VW.  


Some Midwest states set to reopen some businesses, but it will be a “new normal”

Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. continue to climb, but things are slowly improving. As CBS News’ Dean Reynolds reports, at least 20 states are set to bring back business in some way in the coming days — but it will be far from business as usual.

Some Midwest states are set to reopen workforce in the coming days in what will be the “new normal”


Girl Scouts of Alaska get federal recovery loan as cookie sales crumble

Selling Girl Scout cookies is normally a foolproof business model, but the coronavirus outbreak cooled sales of the treats in Alaska.

The Girl Scouts of Alaska sought assistance, and the organization got a federal recovery loan to help compensate for lost cookie sales.

First National Bank Alaska facilitated the federal Paycheck Protection Program loan, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

Leslie Ridle, head of one of two Girl Scouts councils in Alaska, said fears of girls becoming infected with COVID-19 forced the organization to cut its six-week sales season in half. Click here to read more.


Aspiring NFL player writes powerful letter after father survives battle with COVID-19

Ellis McKennie III’s dream of becoming a professional football player didn’t come true this weekend, but his prayers had already been answered. His father, Ellis McKennie Sr., was discharged from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) after fighting the coronavirus for nearly a month.

The man McKennie describes as his superhero was wheeled out of the hospital to thunderous applause, then took his first steps after surviving COVID-19.

Click here to read more.


Almost 3 million people have contracted COVID-19 globally, about a third of them in the U.S.

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University researchers shows that as of Monday morning, more than 2.98 million people have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease across the globe, with almost a third of those cases — 965,933 patients — recorded in the U.S.

The death toll in the U.S. also dwarfs those reported by all other countries, at 54,877 as of Monday morning. While the true number of fatalities from COVID-19 is feared to be much higher in virtually every corner of the world, the overall global death toll confirmed as of Monday morning was 206, 640.

Of the nearly 1 million people to test positive for the virus in the U.S., Johns Hopkins says more than 107,000 are known to have recovered.

Outbreak Science: Using artificial intelligence to track the coronavirus pandemic


UK leader Boris Johnson returns to work after bout of COVID-19, tells country end is in sight

The prime minister of Great Britain returned to work Monday after fighting off COVID-19 to deliver his country a message of hope as it endures its fifth week of lockdown.

“Everyday I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land and it is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London.

He said the virtually complete shutdown of Britain’s economy had helped deliver the nation close to “the end of the first phase of this conflict,” successfully preventing a crippling epidemic like the ones seen in Italy and Spain, where national health services were overwhelmed.

Prime Minister Returns To Downing Street After Suffering With Covid-19
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in Downing Street as he returns to work following his recovery from COVID-19, on April 27, 2020 in London, England.


“We have so far collectively shielded our NHS” from such an inundation of COVID-19 cases, Johnson said, adding that Britons had “collectively flattened the peak” of the outbreak in the country.

He warned the nation, however, that everyone must continue to respect the lockdown measures set to remain in place for another two weeks, or risk facing a new wave of disease that could quickly undo all the gains made over the last month.


Expert advice on how to enter the workforce altered by coronavirus

With millions of people filing for unemployment due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, many are looking for jobs and wondering where they might find them.

Essential services, remote jobs and quick gigs are prevailing right now as millions of furloughed employees search for work, CBS New York reports.

“Temporarily, you should be willing to take a job below your level,” career counselor Eileen Sharaga told the station.

Sharaga said now more than ever, finding work is about tailoring the skills you already have to the jobs that are available.

“The important thing is how to translate your area of expertise so that it lends itself to a teleconferencing remote situation,” Sharaga said. “You need to revisit your LinkedIn profile because that LinkedIn profile needs to be adjusted to the world out there.”

Read more here.  


Ecuador suffers one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks

Ecuador is seeing one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with possibly thousands dead. But that hasn’t been enough to convince the president of Latin America’s largest country, Brazil, to take the threat seriously.

Manuel Bojorquez reports in the video below:

Ecuador suffers one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks

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