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Live updates: As ‘quarantine fatigue’ spreads, Fauci says second wave of coronavirus is ‘inevitable’

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 4/28/2020 Teo Armus, Antonia Farzan, Rick Noack, John Wagner, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman, Miriam Berger, Siobhán O'Grady, Felicia Sonmez
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As antsy Americans show growing signs of “quarantine fatigue” and officials face pressure to ease coronavirus restrictions, factories, malls and state governments in many parts of the country are taking steps toward reopening.

But Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a second wave of infections is “inevitable” in the United States, which has recorded more than 1 million confirmed cases — nearly one-third of the global total. Fauci also warned that “we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter” if the right countermeasures aren’t put in place.

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Here are some significant developments:

  • ‘Frostbite’ toes and ‘second-week crashes’ are among the curious and sometimes dangerous phenomena among some covid-19 patients that have caught the interest of medical experts in recent weeks.
  • The U.S. economy shrank by 4.8 percent from January through March as it saw the worst slowdown in growth since the Great Recession.
  • Nearly half of the world’s workforce is at risk of losing their incomes as the pandemic continues to disrupt lives and economies around the globe, a U.N. agency warned.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that holding the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 will be “impossible” if the pandemic is not contained.
  • Signaling confidence that it has contained the virus, China scheduled its big legislative meetings for late May. The “Two Sessions” meetings had been postponed at the height of the outbreak.

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2:56 PM: Officials began testing every inmate at a federal prison in California; 4 in 10 have the virus

a truck that is sitting on a bench in front of a building: A guard drives past the entrance of the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island. © Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters A guard drives past the entrance of the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island.

More than 40 percent of inmates at federal prison in Southern California have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities say, a wave of infections revealed after officials moved to test everyone held there.

The Bureau of Prisons reported that 443 of the 1,055 inmates held at Terminal Island, a low-security federal prison in San Pedro, Calif., have tested positive. Two inmates at Terminal Island have died from the virus so far, the bureau reported.

A spokesman for the bureau said Wednesday that while this represented more than 4 in 10 inmates at the prison, only 10 percent of the people tested had symptoms such as coughing or a fever. The spokesman said the plan to test everyone will help the prison slow the spread of infection by identifying and isolating people who have the virus and no symptoms.

This facility now accounts for one of three confirmed infections among inmates across the federal prison system, according to the Bureau of Prisons site. The bureau says it has more than 142,000 inmates housed in the federal prison system, more than 1,300 of whom have tested positive. Another 335 staff members have tested positive, 10 of them at Terminal Island.

The Bureau of Prisons has faced criticism for not conducting widespread testing, though it has moved in recent weeks to expand capacity. A bureau spokesman said last week that officials soon expected to have 20 rapid Abbott testing instruments distributed at various facilities across the system.

In some places, too, the bureau is working with local health departments to expand testing to inmates who do not show symptoms. Such is the case at Terminal Island, where the Bureau of Prisons spokesman said officials began working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to start testing for all inmates last week.

By: Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky

2:56 PM: Pelosi announces membership on new coronavirus select committee

Nancy Pelosi wearing a suit and tie: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) © Andrew Harnik/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the Democratic lawmakers who will serve on the new House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

The committee will be chaired by Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.). The other members are Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (Calif.); Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.); Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (N.Y.); Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.); Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.); and Rep. Andy Kim (N.J.).

“We must be sure that the money we put forth goes to those who need it most, in a way that addresses disparities in access to health care and credit,” Pelosi said in a letter to fellow Democrats announcing the committee membership. “We also owe it to the American people to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and to protect against price-gouging and profiteering.”

House Republicans have criticized Pelosi’s committee as unnecessary and duplicative given multiple oversight mechanisms that are already in place, including a new inspector general and congressional commission that were created in the $2 trillion Cares Act Congress passed in late March. The committee is supposed to have 12 members: seven Democrats and five Republicans. Republicans have not yet announced their appointments or indicated the extent to which they plan to participate in the committee’s proceedings.

Pelosi and Clyburn spoke at a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the new committee, which is tasked with investigating the ongoing response to the pandemic and ensuring that the trillions appropriated by Congress are appropriately spent.

“Congress has a constitutional duty and moral responsibllity to ensure that these $2 trillion in taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and properly to address the needs of the American people,” Clyburn said.

By: Erica Werner

2:46 PM: Death tolls vary in western Europe as some governments move to lift restrictions

a group of people in front of a building: Floral tributes to the deceased hang from a columbarium at the Memora Servicios Funerarios SL funeral home in Girona, Spain, on April 23. (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg) Floral tributes to the deceased hang from a columbarium at the Memora Servicios Funerarios SL funeral home in Girona, Spain, on April 23. (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)

Daily death tolls continue to vary across western Europe, as some governments prepare to move their countries out of intensive lockdowns intended to stem the spread of the virus. Public health experts have expressed concern that transitions out of lockdown could trigger a second wave of infections in some places.

  • Italian officials confirmed 323 coronavirus deaths Wednesday, compared with 382 the day before, bringing the country’s total death toll to 27,682. An additional 2,086 cases of the virus were also confirmed in the past day. The number of patients in intensive care, however, continues to decline.
  • An additional 427 people died in France in the past day, bringing the total number of coronavirus-linked deaths in the country to 24,087. The data point marked a slight increase in deaths compared with Tuesday, when 367 deaths were confirmed.
  • Spain’s death toll also increased Wednesday, when officials confirmed 325 deaths compared with 301 deaths Tuesday. Spain also confirmed an additional 2,144 new coronavirus cases. Officials are preparing to phase the country out of its long-term lockdown. Over the weekend, children under 14 were allowed to exercise outside for the first time in six weeks. Some businesses are expected to slowly reopen over the next several weeks.

By: Siobhán O'Grady

2:41 PM: Trump distances himself from claim that U.S. ‘very soon’ will be conducting 5 million coronavirus tests a day

a hand holding a neck tie: Alexandre Panis holds a test kit for covid-19 at McKinley Elementary School amid the coronavirus pandemic in Compton, Calif., on Tuesday. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) © Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Alexandre Panis holds a test kit for covid-19 at McKinley Elementary School amid the coronavirus pandemic in Compton, Calif., on Tuesday. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

President Trump on Wednesday softened his claim that the United States will “very soon” be conducting 5 million coronavirus tests per day, partially walking back comments he made at the White House less than 24 hours earlier.

At an event in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, Trump was asked about estimates from some health experts that the United States will need to conduct 5 million tests per day by June for the country to safely reopen.

A report by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics argues the United States needs that many tests daily to keep the virus under control. Tests across the United States are running in the range of 130,000 to 160,000 a day, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

“Well, it will increase it, and it’ll increase it by much more than that in the very near future,” Trump said Tuesday when asked about the 5 million figure.

Asked to clarify whether that meant he was confident the United States would surpass 5 million tests per day, Trump replied: “Oh, well, we’re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close.”

But Wednesday, after some members of his administration cast doubt on the country’s ability to achieve that amount of testing per day, Trump appeared to distance himself from the statement. He argued that the 5 million number didn’t come from him but rather from others. “I didn’t say it. … I think it was the Harvard report,” he said.

He also stood by his assertion that the United States would reach that number someday, although he did not use the words “very soon.”

“Somebody came out with a study of 5 million people,” Trump said. “Do I think we will? I think we will. … We are going to be there at a certain point. We’ll be there.”

At the same Oval Office meeting, Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, suggested the United States was still a way off from achieving 5 million tests per day.

“I think we do need that kind of a new breakthrough to a new technique, a new measurement to get to the kind of numbers that Harvard is talking about,” Birx said. “But I think we’ve made it clear all along that states have controlled and mitigated with the current number.”

By: Felicia Sonmez and William Wan

2:24 PM: Kenya restricts entry to two massive refugee camps

a group of people standing next to a fence: Young Somalis at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya on Dec. 19, 2017. On April 28, 2020, Kenya announced a ban on movement into and out of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, two of Africa's largest refugee camps, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. © Ben Curtis/AP Young Somalis at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya on Dec. 19, 2017. On April 28, 2020, Kenya announced a ban on movement into and out of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, two of Africa's largest refugee camps, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Kenyan authorities prohibited movement into and out of two massive refugee camps Wednesday as part of coronavirus preventive measures for these highly vulnerable communities.

The restrictions affect more than 220,000 residents of the Dadaab camp, which is among the largest refugee camps in the world, and more than 190,000 residents in the Kakuma camp, as well as Kenyan host communities in those areas.

Neither of the camps has had any confirmed coronavirus cases. However, aid agencies are concerned about the virus spreading in these dense, makeshift and impoverished communities, which lack intensive care units and offer only very basic health services.

Kenya imposed a partial lockdown last week, which included a three-week ban on movement into and out of the country’s four hardest-hit areas, among them the capital, Nairobi.

Since March 31, aid agencies have prohibited humanitarian workers from entering or leaving the camps to limit possible modes of transmission, according to Philippa Crosland-Taylor, Kenya country director at Care, which provides assistance to refugees in Dadaab.

The government has repeatedly threatened to close Dadaab, which opened three decades ago along the border with Somalia and houses mainly Somali refugees. The Kakuma camp in northwestern Kenya houses refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia, among other countries.

Because of coronavirus-related border closures in the region, there have been barely any new arrivals to the camps in recent weeks, while programs to resettle refugees in their home countries or in a third country have been on hold since February, according to Eujin Byun, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, in Kenya.

UNHCR has been part of efforts to quickly build up health infrastructure in the camps, where until now residents were transferred to Nairobi in more serious cases, and clinics have lacked emergency equipment such as ventilators.

By: Miriam Berger

2:12 PM: U.K. deaths jump to 26,000 as government now includes deaths from outside of hospitals

Dominic Raab wearing a suit and tie: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday in London. © Will Oliver/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday in London.

LONDON — The number of people who have died because of the coronavirus in Britain now exceeds 26,000, with officials including deaths from outside of the hospital for the first time. Speaking at 10 Downing Street’s daily news briefing, Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, said that the total number of deaths in the country is 26,097.

The figure was a 17 percent increase from that reported Tuesday because of a new way of recording deaths that includes those from nursing homes, other facilities for the elderly and the community in general. The new figures were an “improved daily reporting system for deaths,” said Raab, who added that going forward, the government’s daily figures would now include deaths “from all settings” where an individual tested positive for covid-19.

On Tuesday, the government reported that 21,678 had died — a figure that included deaths in hospitals only. The government has revised its figures dating back to early March using the new methodology. Previously, the Office for National Statistics reported deaths in hospitals and the community, but there was a lag of almost two weeks.

Charts shown at Wednesday’s news briefing comparing global deaths suggested that Britain’s death toll was on course to be among the highest in Europe.

By: Karla Adam

2:06 PM: More than 80 percent of hospitalized covid-19 patients in Georgia were African American, study finds

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: To show support for medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, firefighters gathered outside the Augusta University Medical Center on April 28 in Augusta, Ga. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle/AP) To show support for medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, firefighters gathered outside the Augusta University Medical Center on April 28 in Augusta, Ga. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle/AP)

As Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) moves to reopen more businesses, a new study underscores the disproportionate toll the coronavirus has taken on the state’s African American population.

Surveying eight Georgia hospitals, researchers found that in a sample of 305 covid-19 patients, 247 were black — more than 80 percent and more than the researchers expected.

While limited by time and geography, the results of the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday echo research showing that black Americans are more likely to be infected and die of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Read more here.

By: Rachel Weiner

2:00 PM: ‘Second-week crash’ is time of peril for some covid-19 patients

a group of people sitting on a bench: A patient is taken by a paramedic to a waiting ambulance in New York on April 28. © Peter Foley/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock A patient is taken by a paramedic to a waiting ambulance in New York on April 28.

During the first week that she had covid-19, Morgan Blue felt weak, with a severe backache and a fever. The symptoms did not alarm doctors at her local emergency department, however. They sent her home after she showed up at the hospital.

But on Day 8, the 26-year-old customer service representative from Flint, Mich., abruptly felt as though she was choking. An ambulance took her to the hospital, where she spent eight days, four of them in intensive care, before she recovered and was able to go home.

There is little consensus among doctors and experts about why the second week of covid-19 seems to be so dangerous for some people. But critical care specialists, EMTs and others are aware of this frightening aspect.

Read more here.

By: Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha

1:58 PM: Trump says federal social-distancing guidelines will be ‘fading out’ as governors implement their own plans

a store front at day: The State Theater marquee displays a parody of a film title to encourage social distancing on April 3 in Sioux Falls, S.D. © Erin Bormett/AP The State Theater marquee displays a parody of a film title to encourage social distancing on April 3 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

President Trump suggested Wednesday that he does not plan to extend federal social-distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the country’s governors will make decisions on what guidelines work best given the conditions in their states.

“They’ll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it,” Trump said of the federal guidelines in an Oval Office meeting with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

Trump added: “We’re speaking to a lot of different people, and they’re explaining what they’re doing. And I am very much in favor of what they’re doing. They’re getting it going. And we’re opening our country again.”

The Trump administration first issued the federal guidance in March; the president later extended it through the end of April.

Although Trump didn’t explicitly say so, his comments Wednesday appear to indicate that the administration’s broad guidelines for states to follow as they begin reopening amid the pandemic will replace the earlier nationwide guidance. The guidelines suggest that before reopening, states should first see a decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases over a 14-day period — although a number of states have proceeded to partially reopen without having met that criteria.

At Wednesday’s Oval Office exchange with reporters, Vice President Pence asserted that “frankly, every state in America has embraced” the original federal social distancing guidelines “at a minimum,” and now the Trump administration is focused on “working with states” as they unveil plans to reopen.

“The new guidance that we’ve issued is guidance for how they can do that safely and responsibly,” he said.

By: Felicia Sonmez

1:57 PM: Most Americans are not willing or able to use an app tracking coronavirus infections

Logos of coronavirus tracking applications are displayed on a smartphone on April 10, 2020. © Olivier Douliery/Afp Via Getty Images Logos of coronavirus tracking applications are displayed on a smartphone on April 10, 2020.

Nearly 3 in 5 Americans say they are either unable or unwilling to use the infection-alert system under development by Google and Apple, suggesting that it will be difficult to persuade enough people to use the app to make it effective against the coronavirus pandemic, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds.

The two tech giants are working with public health authorities and university researchers to produce a set of tools that apps could use to notify users who had come in close contact with a person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The initiative has been portrayed as a way to enhance traditional forms of contact tracing to find potential new infections and help make resumption of economic and social activities safer in the months ahead.

But the effort faces several major barriers, including that about 1 in 6 Americans do not have smartphones, which would be necessary for running any apps produced by the initiative. Rates of smartphone ownership are much lower among seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of covid-19, with just over half of those age 65 or older saying they have a smartphone (53 percent).

Rates are even lower for those 75 and older, according to The Post-U. Md. poll.

Read more here.

By: Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell and Alauna Safarpour

1:42 PM: ‘Frostbite’ toes and other rashes may be signs of hidden infection, especially in the young

a red bench next to a fence: A sign indicates that a playground is closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Flamingo Park on April 29 in Miami Beach, Fla. © Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images A sign indicates that a playground is closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Flamingo Park on April 29 in Miami Beach, Fla.

Not long after the pandemic lockdown began, Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, started getting urgent calls about odd frostbite-like patches showing up on people’s toes.

While some complained of a burning sensation, the inflammation usually disappeared on its own in two to three weeks without treatment. What was striking is that many of those patients had tested positive for covid-19.

The curious phenomenon caught the interest of researchers in France, Italy and China. But the reports were mostly limited to individual case studies and first-person observations, making it difficult to determine what the rashes mean, why they are occurring and how they are linked to the virus.

Now, a U.S.-based group is preparing to publish the first in-depth look at covid-19’s dermatologic effects, based on a registry of nearly 300 patients confirmed or suspected of having the virus.

The report, expected out as soon as this week, offers some tantalizing clues about the pathogen and its wildly different effects on people.

Read more here.

By: Ariana Eunjung Cha

1:23 PM: New York City mayor says he ‘has no regrets’ for breaking up rabbi’s funeral

Bill de Blasio talking on a cell phone: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has sparked controversy after he broke up crowds gathering for a rabbi's funeral and threatened arrests. © Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has sparked controversy after he broke up crowds gathering for a rabbi's funeral and threatened arrests.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio oversaw the dispersal of a rabbi’s funeral on Tuesday night — and elicited a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing him of targeting the Jewish community.

“I spoke out of real distress that people’s lives were in danger before my eyes, and I was not going to tolerate it,” he said at a Wednesday news conference. “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way — it was not my intention.”

The funeral was for 73-year-old Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who died of covid-19. Mourners swarmed the streets to pay their respects, to the distress of law enforcement and the mayor.

De Blasio showed up to the scene after he heard a report that a large crowd of mourners had gathered in Brooklyn, including some with uncovered faces, and was defying social distancing orders, The Washington Post’s Timothy Bella reported.

“When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus,” he tweeted late Tuesday

Critics chided de Blasio for not displaying the same kind of urgency when a crowd had assembled earlier in the day to watch military jets fly over the city. But Tuesday’s funeral was not similar to people gathering in a park, de Blasio said.

“Let’s be honest, this kind of gathering has only happened in a few places, and it cannot continue,” he said Wednesday. “It’s endangering the lives of people in the community.”

The mayor said he won’t tolerate anti-Semitism in his city and trumpeted his past championing of the Jewish community.

He said he will call out similar events in other communities if he sees them and apologized if people were hurt by what he said Tuesday night. “That was not my intention,” he said. “But I also want to be clear: I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively.”

By: Lateshia Beachum

12:55 PM: McConnell warns of a ‘second pandemic’ — of lawsuits

Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters April 21 after the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Patrick Semansky/AP) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters April 21 after the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Wednesday of a potential “second pandemic” — of lawsuits — if his idea of shielding businesses from liability is not included in the next round of legislation crafted by Congress in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

McConnell’s loaded description came during a radio interview as he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued to jockey over the scope of the legislation. Democrats are insisting that it include hundreds of billions of dollars in additional aid to states and localities to make up for lost tax revenue during the pandemic.

“Well look, there’s no question at all governors regardless of party would like to have more money, and I’m open to discussing that,” McConnell said on Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show.” “But what [Pelosi is] ignoring is the second pandemic, which is going to be lawsuits against doctors, nurses, hospitals and brave business people.”

McDonnell suggested this week that any legislation that provides state and local aid should also include some sort of “liability shield” that would prevent businesses from being sued by customers and perhaps employees who contract the coronavirus, an idea that has been under consideration at the White House.

“I mean this is the best way to protect the brave people who have been taking care of covid-19 patients, and it will take a good deal of bravery to open up their business,” McConnell said.

“If there’s a lawyer out on the sidewalk looking at every move you make as to whether you somehow have been irresponsible in this phase one and two that we move into as we reopen America, that’s not the way to get the country going again.”

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have both spoken out against liability changes, suggesting that employees of businesses that are reopening deserve more protections, not fewer.

On Tuesday, Schumer accused McConnell of “subterfuge” for pushing a measure that could derail assistance to cash-strapped states and localities.

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By: John Wagner

12:19 PM: Mass layoffs begin in cities and states, threatening critical services

a close up of a sign: City of Hialeah employees hand out unemployment applications to people in front of the John F. Kennedy Library on April 8, in Hialeah, Fla. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images City of Hialeah employees hand out unemployment applications to people in front of the John F. Kennedy Library on April 8, in Hialeah, Fla.

In Michigan, some unstaffed highway rest stops are shuttered. In Santa Barbara, Calif., local librarians are out of a job. Dayton, Ohio, has ordered furloughs at nearly every agency, and in Arlington, Tex., police officers and firefighters may soon see painful cuts.

Facing an urgent financial crisis, these and other cities and states nationwide are eyeing dramatic reductions to their workforces, threatening critical public-sector employees and first responders at a time when many Americans may need their local governments’ help the most.

Even as President Trump and top Republicans contend that only big-spending, liberal-leaning states are to blame for their mounting budget woes, a Washington Post review found that the economic havoc wrought by the novel coronavirus pandemic is far more widespread — saddling Democratic and Republican mayors and governors alike with souring finances and major revenue gaps. Some local governments have started laying off or furloughing thousands of their workers, and the numbers are likely to grow markedly in the absence of federal aid.

Read more here.

By: Tony Romm

12:11 PM: Can I go outside? Should I get an antibody test? These and other coronavirus questions answered.

a sign on the side of a building: A message is posted on the front window of the Ranging Bull Saloon in Augusta, Maine. Gov. Janet Mills (D-Maine) announced plans for the eventual reopening of restaurants and other businesses at a news conference on Tuesday. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP) © Robert F. Bukaty/AP A message is posted on the front window of the Ranging Bull Saloon in Augusta, Maine. Gov. Janet Mills (D-Maine) announced plans for the eventual reopening of restaurants and other businesses at a news conference on Tuesday. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

You’ve been cooped up for weeks, and your days are running together.

While covid-19 cases are believed to have peaked in some states, they are still on the rise in others. Some states are moving to reopen while others are holding back.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic right now.

Read more here.

By: Laurie McGinley

12:09 PM: Guinea Bissau’s prime minister, other top officials contract coronavirus

Babatunde Fashola in a blue shirt standing in front of a crowd: Guinea-Bissau's prime minister, Nuno Gomes Nabiam, said April 29, 2020, that he had been infected with the coronavirus, as three other ministers in the fragile West African state also tested positive. © Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images Guinea-Bissau's prime minister, Nuno Gomes Nabiam, said April 29, 2020, that he had been infected with the coronavirus, as three other ministers in the fragile West African state also tested positive.

Several top government officials have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, including Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam, the Health Ministry confirmed Wednesday. Interior Minister Botche Cande and two other cabinet members are among those who also tested positive. Health Minister Antonio Deuna said they are in quarantine at a hotel in Bissau, the capital, Reuters reported.

The small country, home to about 1.8 million people, has confirmed at least 73 cases of the virus, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The first two cases were diagnosed in March.

Officials confirmed the first death related to the coronavirus over the weekend. But like elsewhere, testing remains limited, and neighboring countries have reported significantly higher tolls.

President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, who took office after a contested December vote, extended the country’s lockdown on Sunday and said residents “shouldn’t delude ourselves because we are far from being able to say that we are in total control of the situation.”

The quarantined Guinea-Bissauan officials are the latest world leaders to contract the virus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently returned to work after three weeks away battling a serious case of covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also contracted the virus, as have several U.S. lawmakers and top Iranian officials, among others.

By: Siobhán O'Grady

11:39 AM: Spanish coastal town apologizes for using bleach to disinfect a public beach

Local authorities of a picturesque coastal resort in Spain faced swift backlash after they sprayed bleach along a beach as part of a disinfecting effort ahead of a gradual loosening of the virus-plagued country’s strict lockdown.

Last week, tractors sprayed the bleach solution along more than one mile of the beach in Zahara de los Atunes, near Cadiz in southwestern Spain, before children were allowed to go outside Monday for the first time in six weeks.

The disinfecting campaign posed an environmental threat to the area’s ecosystem, which includes sand dunes popular among breeding and nesting birds, as well as for children who might unintentionally ingest the lingering solution while playing.

“Bleach is used as a very powerful disinfectant, it is logical that it be used to disinfect streets and asphalt, but here the damage has been brutal,” María Dolores Iglesias, a local environmentalist, told Spanish media, the BBC reported.

“They have devastated the dune spaces and gone against all the rules,” Iglesias continued. “It has been an aberration what they have done, also taking into account that the virus lives in people not on the beach. It is crazy.” Agustín Conejo, a local official, apologized and called it “a wrong move … done with the best intention,” the BBC reported.

Greenpeace in Spain also condemned the campaign, tweeting, “Fumigating beaches in the middle of the breeding season for birds or the development of the invertebrate network that will support coastal fishing … is not one of Trump’s ideas. It is happening in Zahara de los Atunes.”

Greenpeace was referring to President Trump’s false remarks last week suggesting that consuming bleach could treat the coronavirus: It in fact cannot and is dangerous to ingest.

Other countries such as China and the United Arab Emirates have undergone massive disinfectant campaigns of public spaces.

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By: Miriam Berger

11:25 AM: Covid-19 has taken more American lives than the Vietnam War

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 58,200 on Wednesday, eclipsing the number of American service members killed in the Vietnam War.

The comparison, although imperfect, indicates the scope of the outbreak since February in the United States and its territories, which have reported more than 1 million covid-19 cases, according to figures compiled by The Post.

a screenshot of a cell phone

By: Laris Karklis

11:12 AM: Gilead: Positive results from clinical trial of remdesivir to be released by NIH

a close up of a bottle: (Ulrich Perrey/AFP/Getty Images) (Ulrich Perrey/AFP/Getty Images)

Gilead Sciences said Wednesday that a division of the National Institutes of Health plans to release positive early results of a clinical trial of its drug remdesivir, a potential treatment for coronavirus, sending markets sharply up at the opening of trading.

“Gilead Sciences is aware of positive data emerging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) study of the investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of covid-19,” the company said in an early-morning statement. “We understand that the trial has met its primary endpoint and that NIAID will provide detailed information at an upcoming briefing.''

Gilead did not provide specifics or characterize the results in its brief statement. NIAID confirmed it planned an announcement later Wednesday.

Read more here.

By: Christopher Rowland

11:05 AM: Dogs are being trained to sniff out coronavirus cases

a woman walking a dog on a leash © iStock/iStock

As some states move to reopen after weeks of shutdowns, infectious-disease experts say the prevention of future coronavirus outbreaks will depend on scaling up testing and identifying asymptomatic carriers.

Now, eight Labrador retrievers — and their powerful noses — have been enlisted to help.

The dogs are the first trainees in a University of Pennsylvania research project to determine whether canines can detect an odor associated with the virus that causes covid-19. If so, they might eventually be used in a sort of “canine surveillance” corps, the university said — offering a noninvasive, four-legged method to screen people in airports, businesses or hospitals.

It would not be surprising if the dogs prove adept at detecting SARS-CoV-2. In addition to drugs, explosives and contraband food items, dogs are able to sniff out malaria, cancers and even a bacterium ravaging Florida’s citrus groves. And research has found that viruses have specific odors, said Cynthia M. Otto, director of the Working Dog Center at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“We don’t know that this will be the odor of the virus, per se, or the response to the virus, or a combination,” said Otto, who is leading the project. “But the dogs don’t care what the odor is. … What they learn is that there’s something different about this sample than there is about that sample.”

Read more here.

By: Karin Brulliard

10:58 AM: Baseball is returning in South Korea — without fans, high-fives or spitting

a baseball player pitching a ball on a field: Kiwoom Heroes pitcher Jake Brigham at a training session Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) © Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images Kiwoom Heroes pitcher Jake Brigham at a training session Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

For Tyler Saladino of the Samsung Lions, it’s the unnatural, clanging sound of a baseball striking an empty seat in an empty section of stands. For Taylor Motter of the Kiwoom Heroes, it’s seeing a teammate escorted out of the stadium when one of the frequent temperature checks registers a slight fever. For Hank Conger, a catching instructor for the Lotte Giants, it’s the awkward feeling of going in for a high-five, then remembering that time-honored move is now outlawed and having to adjust on the fly.

With the Korea Baseball Organization preparing to launch its delayed 2020 regular season May 5, the three Americans are grateful for the return of real, meaningful baseball.

But having competed in KBO intrasquad and exhibition games for several weeks, they are constantly reminded of the surreal situation confronting them. And their experiences in South Korea could help inform Major League Baseball as it plots its own way forward.

Read more here.

By: Dave Sheinin and Rick Maese

10:46 AM: Colorado governor says elected officials should be ‘role models’ by wearing masks

Jared Polis wearing a suit and tie: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) holds up a face mask during a news conference on April 27 about the state's efforts to reopen nonessential businesses during the coronavirus crisis. (David Zalubowski/AP) Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) holds up a face mask during a news conference on April 27 about the state's efforts to reopen nonessential businesses during the coronavirus crisis. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) weighed in Wednesday on the controversy over Vice President Pence going maskless during a visit to the Mayo Clinic, saying elected officials “should be role models” and don face coverings in such settings.

“Look, as elected officials, I think we have an additional responsibility, with the soapbox we have, to practice what we preach,” Polis said during an interview on CNN. “Elected officials should be role models and should demonstrate the importance of wearing masks, which could absolutely help save lives and help us return to economic normalcy sooner rather than later.”

Polis relayed that he wears a mask when walking to the podium at news conferences, taking it off only when he is at a safe distance from others. He added that he and his partner and children also wear masks every day when walking their dog “because it’s important.”

Pence drew widespread criticism Tuesday after visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and speaking with patients and staff while not wearing a face mask, in an apparent violation of the medical center’s policy. It was a decision that also appears to run contrary to the Trump administration’s recommendations for combating the outbreak. Asked by reporters later about his decision, Pence noted that he is frequently tested for the coronavirus and so didn’t need to wear a mask.

Earlier this month, Pence was photographed arriving in Colorado Springs and being greeted by Polis, who wore a face mask emblazoned with images of his state’s flag. Pence’s face was bare.

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By: John Wagner

10:20 AM: Romney criticizes government response to coronavirus

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered a critical assessment of the federal government’s readiness for the novel coronavirus, describing it as not a “great moment in American leadership.”

Romney mostly kept his criticisms broad during an event Tuesday night with Georgetown University students via video chat. He avoided attacking President Trump directly, although he took a few swipes at the president’s management style.

“The speed of our response looked slow compared to other people. That first phase will not stand out as a great moment in American leadership,” Romney said, referring to the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. “We didn’t look real strong, and that’s kind of an understatement.”

Read more here.

By: Colby Itkowitz

10:18 AM: States are reopening despite not meeting White House guidelines for declining cases

a person sitting at a desk: Georgia allowed some businesses, such as hair salons, to reopen on Friday with some restrictions. (Charlotte Kesl for The Washington Post) Georgia allowed some businesses, such as hair salons, to reopen on Friday with some restrictions. (Charlotte Kesl for The Washington Post)

When the White House released guidance this month for states weighing when to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, the guidelines suggested waiting for declines in documented cases and reported illnesses before lifting restrictions.

But as states have begun lifting restrictions and announcing plans to reopen, they are falling short of some of this guidance. The White House guidelines suggest a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period” before reopening — a figure that states reopening so far are not meeting, based on publicly reported data.

In Georgia, which began reopening businesses last week, the number of reported novel coronavirus cases has fluctuated in recent days, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. The same is true in South Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota and Colorado, all states that have begun easing at least some restrictions recently.

Reported cases might not reflect real-time trends, because there are some lags in testing and reporting, health officials say. But they give an idea of the data being released publicly, which businesses and residents alike can view when weighing their next actions.

States gearing up to reopen have similarly seen fluctuations, which included more confirmed cases on some recent days than they had the day before. In Texas, the numbers have gone up and down in recent days. Iowa plans to lift restrictions later this week, even as its cases have risen on some recent days, The Post’s data show. In Ohio, officials laid out plans to reopen some things even as cases spiked.

The White House guidance also suggests another criteria for states to consider: a downward trajectory of new positive tests within a two-week period. Ultimately, this guidance is only that — recommendations.

“The governors are going to adhere, hopefully, or they’re going to do what they think is best,” President Trump said last week. “I want them to do what they think is best, but ideally they’ll adhere.”

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By: Mark Berman

10:03 AM: The return of erratic Elon Musk: Amid outbreak, Tesla CEO spreads misinformation, overpromises on ventilators

Elon Musk wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters) SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk promised to ship more than 1,000 ventilators to hospitals around the country last month — and pledged that his Tesla electric-vehicle company would pump out its own version of the devices as soon as possible.

Many of the machines the Tesla chief executive sent were continuous or bi-level positive airway pressure machines, noninvasive devices used for patients with sleep apnea who have trouble getting air inside their lungs, according to some of the hospitals that received them. They can aid in treatment for the coronavirus but typically don’t work for the sickest patients unless they are converted into more advanced machines.

While hospital executives said they were grateful for the mechanical reinforcements brought by Tesla, the shipments continued a pattern by Musk of brash proclamations on Twitter with mixed results on follow-through. Since the coronavirus started to spread, he has peddled the drug chloroquine before clinical tests and questioned the ongoing need for stay-at-home orders — while touting his own relief efforts.

One coronavirus-related YouTube video he tweeted was removed because it violated the company’s guidelines.

Read more here.

By: Faiz Siddiqui

10:02 AM: India to allow stranded workers to go home in relaxation of world’s biggest lockdown

a person talking on a cell phone: India is relaxing some restrictions set in place when the country went into lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) India is relaxing some restrictions set in place when the country went into lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

NEW DELHI — India will permit workers, students and tourists stuck across the country to return to their homes after five weeks of nationwide lockdown, the government said Wednesday.

The change represents a significant shift in India’s restrictions on movement. On March 25, the government shut down all long-distance transportation — including flights, trains and buses — in this country of more than 1.3 billion to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The abrupt lockdown stranded millions of laborers in Indian cities without jobs and with no means to leave. In desperation, thousands set off on foot.

In recent weeks, local governments have attempted to provide food and shelter to vulnerable workers. But they continue to make dangerous journeys home: Some have bicycled across the country, while others took to the sea. Workers have also clashed with authorities in protest.

Now India will allow state governments to arrange special buses to bring home their residents. Such travelers will be quarantined when they arrive at their destinations. Meanwhile, the national lockdown will remain in place at least through May 3. India has already loosened some restrictions on industry and commerce, especially in rural areas. The country has nearly 32,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 1,000 deaths.

The relaxation announced Wednesday came after several states mounted their own initiatives to bring back residents despite the lockdown. The government of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, organized buses to transport thousands of students stranded in a city known for its medical and engineering training courses. Several other states followed suit.

By: Joanna Slater and Niha Masih

9:35 AM: Kushner derides ‘eternal lockdown crowd’ as he presents optimistic scenario on testing

Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner are posing for a picture: Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, and Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, listen during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. (Doug Mills/Bloomberg) © Doug Mills/Bloomberg Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, and Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, listen during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. (Doug Mills/Bloomberg)

White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner on Wednesday derided the “eternal lockdown crowd” as he claimed during a morning television interview that “extraordinary” strides have been made in developing coronavirus testing capacity.

Appearing on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” Kushner offered an optimistic scenario about the expansion of testing, which health experts say remains among the greatest challenges in reopening the economy safely in the coming months.

“The hardest work is really developing the tests, and we needed to engage the commercial market to do that,” Kushner said. “Now that the tests are out there, it’s really about scaling supply chain, really in a historic manner and pace.”

“Somebody asked me why it took so long,” he added. “I actually said, ‘You should look at how did we do this so quickly.’ ”

Kushner said the Trump administration is actively working with governors to develop short- and longer-term plans for expansion of testing.

“The goal here is to get people back to work,” he added. “The eternal lockdown crowd can make jokes on late-night television, but the reality is that the data is on our side, and President Trump has created a pathway to safely open up our country, and make sure that we can get our economy going, and get Americans back to a place where it will be even stronger than it was.”

Kushner’s reference to an “eternal lockdown crowd” prompted a sharp rejoinder from Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.).

“There is no ‘eternal lockdown crowd,’ ” Rush wrote on Twitter. “There are people who put human health over the health of our economy, and then there are people like you.”

By: John Wagner

9:09 AM: Nearly half of global workforce is in informal economy and at risk of losing livelihood, U.N. agency says

a group of people sitting on the side of the street: Daily wage laborers and homeless people eat food distributed by a non-governmental organisation during an extended nationwide lockdown in New Delhi, April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo © Danish Siddiqui/Reuters Daily wage laborers and homeless people eat food distributed by a non-governmental organisation during an extended nationwide lockdown in New Delhi, April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

Nearly half of the world’s workforce is at risk of losing their incomes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt lives and economies around the globe, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned Wednesday.

The Geneva-based United Nations agency estimated that workers in informal economies account for nearly half of the global workforce, or 1.6 billion people. Those people, already among the most vulnerable in labor markets, now “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed,” ILO said in a statement.

“The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally,” according to the ILO. “This translates into a drop of 81 percent in Africa and the Americas, 21.6 percent in Asia and the Pacific, and 70 percent in Europe and Central Asia.”

The labor rights organization estimated 68 percent of workers live in countries with recommended or required workplace closures, down from 81 percent two weeks ago. The ILO attributed the decline primarily to China’s lifting of much of its lockdown.

“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement. “Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing. They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don’t help them now, they will simply perish.”

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By: Miriam Berger

9:01 AM: New York mayor breaks up a rabbi’s crowded funeral

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was so floored Tuesday night by a report of a large funeral gathering in Brooklyn during the coronavirus pandemic that he said he had to see it for himself.

When the Democratic mayor arrived in the Williamsburg neighborhood, he did indeed see hundreds of Orthodox Jewish mourners flooding the sidewalks and intersection of Bedford Avenue and Rutledge Street, honoring the memory of a rabbi who recently died of the coronavirus.

The sounds of police sirens blaring through the streets and officers ordering people to go home did little to disperse the crowd, defying social distancing orders. The mourners, dressed in traditional black garments and hats and forced to yell over the piercing sirens, stood nearly shoulder to shoulder, some with masks and others without them, in a city with almost 158,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 12,000 deaths.

Read more here.

By: Timothy Bella

8:55 AM: Coronavirus kills its first female federal inmate weeks after she had an emergency C-section

About a week after U.S. Marshals transferred Andrea Circle Bear from a jail in South Dakota to a federal prison in Fort Worth, the pregnant inmate was sent to a nearby hospital with a high fever.

On March 28, doctors sent Circle Bear, who was serving a two-year sentence on a drug-related charge, back to Federal Medical Center Carswell, a federal prison equipped to provide medical care to incarcerated women, KXAS reported. Three days later, prison medical staff saw that she had developed a fever, dry cough and other covid-19-like symptoms, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement Tuesday.

She returned that day to the hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator. On April 1, doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section to deliver her premature baby, the bureau said. She tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 4.

Read more here.

By: Katie Shepherd

8:43 AM: About a quarter of Americans consider White House briefings a ‘major’ information source, survey finds

Eugene Scalia sitting in front of a television: Tom Anderson, an anesthesiologist, watches the White House coronavirus disease in his hotel room in Van Wert, Ohio, earlier this month. © Stringer/Reuters Tom Anderson, an anesthesiologist, watches the White House coronavirus disease in his hotel room in Van Wert, Ohio, earlier this month.

As the White House wrestles over whether to continue coronavirus task force briefings led by President Trump, new polling shows that only 27 percent of Americans consider them to be a “major” source of information.

According to the Gallup/Knight Foundation survey, 26 percent say the near-daily briefings are a “minor” information source, while a 46 percent plurality of U.S. adults say that they do not use the briefings as a source of information.

The White House has not advertised a coronavirus task force briefing for Wednesday, which would mark the fifth day in a row without one. Trump, however, has appeared at other events in recent days and taken questions from reporters.

Some Trump aides and allies worry that the often-lengthy briefings are not helping the president politically, particularly in light of one last week in which he mused about injecting disinfectants as a possible coronavirus treatment.

The new polling finds a sharp partisan divide over how useful Americans find the sessions. Sixty-four percent of Republicans say the briefings are a “major” source of information, a view shared by only 5 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents.

By: John Wagner

8:37 AM: Fauci: Second wave of coronavirus is ‘inevitable’

Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

A second wave of the novel coronavirus is “inevitable,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The nation’s top epidemiologist said in a Tuesday interview with the Economic Club that the virus probably won’t go away because it’s highly transmissible and globally spread.

“It’s not going to disappear from the planet which means as we get into next season … in my mind, it’s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus or maybe it never even went away,” he said, noting that parts of the world like southern Africa are seeing an increase in cases. “When it does, how we handle it, will determine our fate.”

Fauci said identifying people who are infected, isolating them and tracing their contacts in an effective and efficient way will be instrumental in keeping the number of projected deaths down to about 70,000 or 80,000 as states move to reopen their economies. New cases will emerge in the process, he said.

“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” he said. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter. ”

Fauci said it’s important for the country to be careful and circumspect as it moves from a lockdown to a “gradual rolling reentry into some sort of normality. ”

The coming winter holds promise for scientists and researchers to know if they have a safe and effective vaccine that could be scaled up for distribution throughout the United States and the world, according to Fauci.

"The fact that people can mount a natural immune response that gets rid of the virus makes me cautiously optimistic that we can develop a vaccine that can mimic natural infection enough to induce that same sort of response that can protect people,” he said.

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By: Lateshia Beachum

8:25 AM: Israel deems women’s ritual baths essential, leaving some conflicted over virus risk

EFRAT, West Bank — As covid-19 spread rapidly in the first weeks of March, Esther grew nervous. It was nearly time for her monthly visit to the ritual bath that many observant Jewish women use to purify themselves after every menstrual cycle, and she worried she might catch the virus at the very place meant for physical and spiritual cleansing.

“I have a disability and many underlying health issues,” said Esther, 43, an ultra-Orthodox mother of seven. “Deciding whether or not to go was very, very stressful.”

Even as Israel closed down its public sphere to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government deemed that some 700 of these ritual baths, or mikvahs, were essential and permitted them to remain open along with supermarkets and pharmacies.

Read more here.

By: Ruth Eglash

7:59 AM: Australians toss aside privacy concerns in rush to sign up for virus tracking phone app

SYDNEY — A country that cherishes disrespect for authority has shown remarkable enthusiasm for a government tool designed to stop the novel coronavirus spreading by monitoring millions of Australians through their cellphones.

On Sunday, the Australian government launched the COVIDSafe cellphone application. Using Bluetooth sensors, the program is designed to track whom an infected person comes into contact with so other potential carriers can be identified and isolated.

Health officials said they had hoped 1 million people would download the app in the first five days.

It took 24 hours.

Read more here.

By: A. Odysseus Patrick

7:50 AM: Canadian government faces criticism over allowing some products only labeled in English

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: In this file photo taken on March 17, 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Canada from his residence in Ottawa. © Dave Chan/AFP/Getty Images In this file photo taken on March 17, 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Canada from his residence in Ottawa.

As governments raced to confront the coronavirus pandemic over the past months, many of the norms that previously appeared sacred quickly faltered: From travel bans to language equality, leaders around the world compromised at a time of global uncertainty.

Another such compromise came this week, when Canadian officials allowed the workplace use of some U.S. cleaning products labeled only in English, following similar announcements on other products over the past weeks.

This would once have been a no-go in the bilingual country: French is regularly spoken at home by more than 20 percent of Canadian citizens, and its status as an official language — on an equal level with English — is enshrined by the 1969 Official Languages Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday defended the decision to temporarily allow unilingual labels, arguing that supplies must be ramped up quickly and that some producers are unable to comply with the bilingual requirements. Like many other nations, Canada has had to rely on imported products, including from the United States.

Canada has reported more than 50,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and about 3,000 deaths.

“We are in a situation that is completely unprecedented, and what is important is to have access to things like disinfectants or hand sanitizers,” Canada’s Global News network quoted Trudeau as saying.

“But we would certainly prefer that this not happen because our linguistic duality is not just a question of our Canadian identity, it’s also a question of safety for consumers,” he added, according to Agence France-Presse. His comment echoed a key argument of the decision’s critics, who say unilingual labeling puts users at risk of using the products incorrectly.

By: Rick Noack

7:45 AM: California governor says other states with more aggressive reopenings make his job harder

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) acknowledged in an interview broadcast Wednesday that protesters and other states with more aggressive reopening plans make his job more difficult — but he insisted he will continue to be guided by data rather than public passions.

“There’s no question it puts pressure. I’d be lying to suggest otherwise,” Newsom said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show when asked if what’s happening in other states makes it harder for him to follow a more cautious path. “I don’t dismiss any of those protests, or any of those points of criticism.”

Newsom, however, insisted that such pressures will not affect his work.

“It will be data and health that guide our decision-making,” he said.

More than one-third of states have announced reopening plans with dates attached to them.

On Tuesday, Newsom announced a four-stage plan for gradually opening parts of the California economy. His plan includes no timetables. Officials said they instead will use benchmarks around testing, hospitalizations and other factors.

Asked in the NBC interview if his gut tells him the worst of the pandemic is behind his state, Newsom said: “In my gut, I do, with this caveat: Only if we take seriously these next phases. If people just assume … that the virus is going to take the weekend off or maybe go on summer vacation, then we’re in real trouble, with a potential second wave that erases all the progress and potentially puts literally tens of thousands of lives at risk.”

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By: John Wagner

7:30 AM: Behind London’s shopfronts, coronavirus lockdown forces tough calculations

LONDON — Behind every shopfront, people are calculating: their money, their futures, the possibility that their livelihoods (reliant on the sale of lager and ale, big-wheel bikes or creams perfumed with lavender) could be killed off by a spooky virus.

How much longer can they cover rent? Can they persuade creditors to give them a breather? Will a tax holiday tide them over for months — even a year — of lockdown?

The merchants of Exmouth Market, a two-block stretch of central London known for its bustling food stalls and independent shops, have no answers. Their street is near silent but for birdsong.

Read more here.

By: Christine Spolar

7:15 AM: In a sign the virus is contained, China schedules big political meetings for late May

China signaled confidence that its coronavirus epidemic has finally been brought under control, scheduling for next month its highest-profile annual legislative meetings, which had been postponed at the height of the outbreak.

Known as the “Two Sessions,” the meetings are always a piece of important political theater for China’s ruling Communist Party, a venue for leaders to trumpet their achievements of the past year and lay out their plans and targets for the year ahead.

But that will be particularly tricky this year, with China still emerging from a coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan at the end of last year.

Read more here.

By: Anna Fifield

6:58 AM: Greece, an unlikely success story, lifts some restrictions on businesses, residents

a group of people sitting at a train station: Commuters travel by metro during rush hour in Athens on Tuesday. © Kostas Tsironis/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Commuters travel by metro during rush hour in Athens on Tuesday.

Just over a month after Greek officials put the country under lockdown, they are taking several steps to gradually restore daily life.

Bookstores, hair salons and some other shops will reopen starting Monday, authorities said, while people will no longer have to notify the government when and why they are leaving home.

The announcement marks an early victory lap of sorts for one of Europe’s unlikeliest success stories in containing the novel coronavirus. Despite an aging population, a weakened health-care system and a history of resistance to government orders, fewer than 140 deaths have been officially announced.

Still, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who last week said the country’s response showed its “best self,” warned against a complete return to daily routines.

“This is not the epilogue of our adventure but the continuation,” he said Tuesday in a televised address, according to Reuters. “Our emergence from quarantine will be done step by step. No one can rule out the risk of the threat rekindling.”

That threat is reflected in the looser restrictions, which also allow churches to reopen, but only for personal worship, and permit residents to return to the beach, but only for exercise.

Other rollback steps will be taken gradually in coming weeks. High schools will partially reopen starting May 11, and younger students will return to class in June.

But businesses that rely on tourism face a less promising summer because of the pandemic’s potentially crippling long-term economic effects on Greece. Restaurants and year-round hotels will probably be allowed to reopen in June, although Mitsotakis said it is very unlikely that large gatherings will be allowed over the next few months.


By: Teo Armus

6:42 AM: Majorities of Americans prefer Biden over Trump on handling coronavirus, economy

Majorities of Americans would prefer former vice president Joe Biden over President Trump when it comes to handling both the coronavirus pandemic and the economy, according to a new poll that includes some ominous findings for the Republican incumbent.

The NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll finds that 55 percent of Americans would prefer that Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, handle the coronavirus response, compared to 40 percent for Trump. On the economy — previously a strong suit for Trump — Americans prefer Biden by a margin of 51 percent to 44 percent.

Preferences on both questions break sharply along party lines, but Biden enjoys stronger support among independents. When it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic, independents break in Biden’s favor, 55 percent to 39 percent.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted late last month found Americans nearly divided between Trump and Biden when asked whom they trust more to handle the coronavirus outbreak. On the economy, 50 percent said they trusted Trump more, compared to 42 percent for Biden.

The new NPR-PBS News Hour-Marist poll also finds that most Americans think their governor is doing a better job than Trump on both the coronavirus and the economy. On the coronavirus, 64 percent say their governor is doing a better job than Trump. On the economy, 54 percent say their governor is doing a better job than the president.

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By: John Wagner

6:36 AM: Japanese prime minister says holding Olympics will be ‘impossible’ if coronavirus is not contained

a man wearing a suit and tie: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wears a protective mask after a news conference in Tokyo on April 17, 2020. © Pool New/Reuters Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wears a protective mask after a news conference in Tokyo on April 17, 2020.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Wednesday that hosting the Tokyo Olympics next year will be out of the question if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.

Originally slated to take place this summer, the Olympic Games have been postponed until July 2021. A growing chorus of Japanese scientists has warned that even a one-year delay might not be enough, and Abe on Wednesday became the most prominent voice to echo those concerns.

“We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely,” Abe said, according to Reuters. “It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.”

The prime minister’s remarks came one day after Yoshitake Yokokura, chief of the Japan Medical Association, said it would be “exceedingly difficult” to hold the Olympics if a coronavirus vaccine has not been developed by next summer. Experts say that such a vaccine could be a long way off and that making sure it is distributed widely could present a separate set of challenges.

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have said that there is no Plan B if the event needs to be postponed again and that the Games will be “scrapped” if they cannot take place next year. Canceling would be a major blow to Abe, who had hoped that an economic boost from the Games would be one of his major achievements.

Before the global pandemic hit, Japan had already spent nearly $13 billion on preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. The country has reported more than 13,700 coronavirus cases and nearly 400 deaths.

By: Antonia Noori Farzan

6:30 AM: E.U. governments ponder how to save tourism industry’s critical summer season

a person sitting at a beach: A mother pushes a stroller at Portixol Beach in Palma de Mallorca, on April 26, 2020 during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of covid-19. (Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images) © Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images A mother pushes a stroller at Portixol Beach in Palma de Mallorca, on April 26, 2020 during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of covid-19. (Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)

BERLIN — European governments are discussing new proposals on how to save the European Union’s estimated 2.3 million tourism businesses amid bleak warnings that the coronavirus pandemic could change vacationing habits for years to come.

Already strained by prolonged lockdowns, many businesses are unlikely to survive if summer holidays are axed over virus fears, industry associations say. As an alternative, they are proposing an easing of restrictions to allow more domestic travel in the coming months, as well as bilateral agreements to remove travel bans between nations.

Without eased restrictions, the collapse of Europe’s tourism sector would exacerbate the continent’s recession. More than 12 million people were employed in the travel and tourism industry in 2018, according to the European Union, contributing almost 4 percent to the bloc’s gross domestic product. If associated sectors are taken into account, the GDP contribution rises to more than 10 percent.

Most E.U. nations have imposed travel restrictions or border controls in response to the crisis, and borderless travel appears unlikely to fully resume this summer. Some nations, however, are pondering bilateral agreements to establish “travel corridors,” allowing citizens of less virus-stricken countries to vacation in countries with similarly small outbreaks, without having to spend two weeks in quarantine.

Industry bodies have recently proposed such a solution between the Czech Republic and Croatia, which relies on tourism for about 20 percent of its GDP.

A similar idea has gained traction among Austrian government officials. Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz have both publicly discussed the possibility of bilateral tourism agreements, specifically with the Czech Republic and Germany.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed doubts over the proposal, countering that there should be no “European race for who will be the first to once again allow tourism travel.”

By: Rick Noack

5:59 AM: Here’s what it’s like to fly from Turkey to the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak

Turkey suspended all international travel in late March, but a few flights have continued, including a commercial route from Istanbul through Minsk to a few European cities, and flights bringing home Turkish citizens from around the world.

Last week, U.S. diplomats in Turkey helped arrange several Turkish Airlines flights back to the United States, including Flight 4096, to Washington Dulles International Airport, early in the morning on April 24.

I took that flight.

Read more here.

By: Kareem Fahim

5:34 AM: England makes millions more people eligible for covid-19 testing

a man in a yellow car: A London ambulance worker takes a patient with an unknown condition from an ambulance outside of the Royal London Hospital on April 20, 2020. © Justin Setterfield/Getty Images A London ambulance worker takes a patient with an unknown condition from an ambulance outside of the Royal London Hospital on April 20, 2020.

LONDON — Testing across England has been expanded so that construction workers, people in care homes and those experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus can now apply to be tested for it, the top health official announced.

People over age 65 who have symptoms and members of their households can now also be tested, along with those who have to leave their homes to get to work and members of their households. Anyone working or living in a care home is also eligible for a test regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms of the virus.

Previously, tests were difficult to obtain and largely reserved for members of the National Health Service, their households and top government officials. Those admitted to hospitals with symptoms were also tested, but for the most part people were told to self-isolate at home without a test.

It was not immediately clear whether these measures were being extended to the rest of Britain, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Tests can be booked online.

“From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said late Tuesday.

The widening of testing comes after months of criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the government for not testing enough people in efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. According to Hancock, 73,400 people a day are now being tested for the infection. The government’s target is 100,000 people a day by the end of the month, which leaves two days for officials to meet their goal.

Across Britain, at least 21,678 deaths and 162,000 confirmed cases of the infection have been reported.

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By: Jennifer Hassan

5:12 AM: Lithuanian capital turns outdoor spaces into open-air restaurants to allow social distancing

a castle with a clock tower in front of a building: A girl rides a scooter through empty Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 21, 2020. The city's mayor plans to turn the square into an open-air cafe so that restaurants can reopen while adhering to social distancing requirements. © Mindaugas Kulbis/AP A girl rides a scooter through empty Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 21, 2020. The city's mayor plans to turn the square into an open-air cafe so that restaurants can reopen while adhering to social distancing requirements.

In an attempt to balance the demands of struggling restaurants that badly want to reopen and social distancing requirements imposed by health experts, the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, is turning outdoor public spaces into massive open-air cafes.

Lithuania, which has reported 1,344 confirmed coronavirus cases and 44 deaths in a country of roughly 2.8 million, began allowing some businesses to reopen Monday. But restaurants, bars and cafes can serve patrons only at outdoor tables, which have to be spaced about six feet apart.

That requirement presented a challenge for restaurateurs in Vilnius’s tightly packed Old Town, who already struggled to fit one or two sidewalk tables on narrow streets that were laid out in medieval times. Many told the city’s mayor, Remigijus Šimašius, that they would not be able to make enough money to justify reopening.

So Šimašius decided to turn over the city’s plazas, squares and streets to restaurant owners, allowing them to set up outdoor seating areas free of charge. “Just open up, work, retain jobs and keep Vilnius alive,” he wrote in a Facebook post Friday.

The offer was wildly popular: Within just one business day, 151 restaurant owners applied for permits, the city said in a statement.

Eighteen of Vilnius’s most prominent public spaces are being divided up to accommodate the demand, and city officials plan to add more locations as summer approaches. A video posted to Twitter on Tuesday showed that one plaza had already been taken over with cafe tables, and a handful of distantly spaced diners were braving the gloomy spring weather.

By: Antonia Noori Farzan

5:00 AM: Democratic lawmakers propose bill to force Trump to invoke Defense Production Act for medical equipment

Democratic lawmakers in Congress will propose legislation Wednesday that would force U.S. manufacturers to make medical supplies such as gowns, masks and swabs for testing, they said.

The bill would require the president to invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up the manufacture of protective equipment and put supply chains under federal oversight.

As hospitals and state governments have decried supply shortages and a lack of widespread testing, Trump has repeatedly expressed his reluctance to use the DPA.

Last month, he claimed that factories were making enough equipment until ordering General Motors to manufacture ventilators. On Tuesday, he used the drastic wartime tool to order meatpacking plants to remain open, even as many experience outbreaks.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said the Trump administration’s response has left health workers and local officials scrambling for supplies “in a ‘Lord of the Flies’ environment in the middle of a global pandemic.”

“Governors are forced to compete against each other while suppliers price-gouge. There’s zero transparency from the White House,” he said. “And above all, we still don’t know who’s in charge.”

Democrats have also charged that the White House has offered few clues about the production and allocation — or sale — of what medical equipment is being manufactured. DPA orders are not public documents.

The bill’s sponsors, who also include Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said they hoped it would be included as part of future coronavirus response packages. Similar legislation will be introduced by Democrats in the House.

By: Teo Armus

4:37 AM: DeVos gets mixed reaction to law on educating students with disabilities during pandemic

Advocates for students with disabilities applauded Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for telling Congress to leave intact the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but special-education administrators said they need flexibility during the coronavirus crisis and called her announcement “confusing. ”

IDEA requires school districts to offer all students an equitable education, and students with disabilities are supposed to receive individualized education programs that spell out the services the children require.

Few school systems have devised a way to extend remote learning and critical services to the 7 million children with disabilities across the country. Some districts, because they cannot provide special-education services at home, aren’t offering online instruction to any student, fearful of breaking the law.

Read more here.

By: Valerie Strauss

4:18 AM: Nation’s biggest mall operator set to reopen 49 shopping centers

a person standing at a train station: A visitor looks down an empty hallway at a mall in Indianapolis last month. © Darron Cummings/AP A visitor looks down an empty hallway at a mall in Indianapolis last month.

The biggest mall operator in the country will reopen nearly 50 shopping centers across 10 states this weekend — and it will do so with social distancing, free face masks and packets of hand sanitizer.

According to an internal memo on Tuesday first obtained by CNBC, Simon Property Group is set to open properties starting Friday in much of the South, where many governors are preparing to lift business restrictions in the coming days.

The document offers some clues about what retail and shopping could look like at nonessential businesses in the coming weeks and months. Customers at Simon Property malls will receive infrared temperature testing as they enter and regular audio reminders about social distancing as they walk around, it said.

Traffic will be controlled to prevent too many people from entering, and changes will also be made to physical structures to curb the spread of the virus. Seating at food courts will be spaced out, play areas and drinking fountains will be blocked off, and only every other sink and urinal will be accessible in bathrooms.

Despite these plans, it remains unclear just how many of the retailers inside will be open. Gap and Macy’s, both of which own several clothing stores across Simon Property malls, have said they will not be opening any locales this weekend.

Although the company will encourage shoppers and retail workers to wear face masks and use contactless pay methods, it will not require either practice.

Most of the malls reopening through Monday are in Georgia, Texas and Indiana, where the company is headquartered.

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By: Teo Armus

4:00 AM: Black activists and officials see a major threat in South’s plans to reopen

As Southern governors reopen the region this week, black activists are joining with local and federal lawmakers to sound the alarm about what they see as a looming threat to the Black Belt.

They say the mostly white, male Republicans — who were reluctant to close their states but are now eager to reopen — are effectively issuing a “death sentence” for millions of black Americans who have been disproportionately impacted both economically and medically by the novel coronavirus.

“He’s willing to risk us at any cost,” said Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who announced a reopening of the state beginning last Friday, with plans to officially let the state’s stay-at-home order expire on Thursday.

Read more here.

This story is part of a collaboration between The Washington Post and The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom covering gender, politics and policy.

By: Errin Haines | The 19th

3:42 AM: Syria extends curfew but eases restrictions on movements and businesses

a bicycle in front of a door: A picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seen on a door of a butcher shop, during a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Damascus, Syria April 22, 2020. © Yamam Al Shaar/Reuters A picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seen on a door of a butcher shop, during a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Damascus, Syria April 22, 2020.

BEIRUT — Syria has extended its nationwide curfew but said it will ease restrictions on travel in the country and will allow some businesses to reopen, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.

War-torn Syria has reported shockingly low numbers of coronavirus cases. The government said only 43 cases and three deaths have occurred in its areas, which include about two-thirds of the country. The northeast, controlled by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish groups, has reported one death from the virus, whereas the rebel-held northwest, the most isolated area in the country, has reported zero cases so far.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government announced it will allow one-time movement between provinces for three days starting Thursday. It also said it will open markets and all stores and services daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., but will hold all businesses to health and disinfecting protocols.

It also ended the school year early, after students were expected to return to class in early May. Government employees will return to work in phases at the end of May, SANA said.

One province, the coastal Tartus, said it will reopen its seaside promenade, known as the corniche, starting Sunday, as the province has not reported any cases.

Videos in the past week from Damascus, however, have shown that markets continue to bustle with shoppers and that social distancing and preventive measures have not been properly enforced in at least some areas. Panic buying ensued, a result of the curfew as well as the weakening Syrian pound during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

By: Sarah Dadouch

3:18 AM: British Airways to cut up to 12,000 jobs

a red and white plane sitting on top of a runway: British Airways planes are parked at an airport in Bournemouth, Britain earlier this month. © Paul Childs/Reuters British Airways planes are parked at an airport in Bournemouth, Britain earlier this month.

British Airways is set to cut as many as 12,000 jobs — about one-quarter of its overall workforce — as the coronavirus pandemic continues to all but eliminate air travel.

The airline’s parent company, IAG, said Tuesday that it needed to impose a “restructuring and redundancy” program until passengers start traveling as often they did last year.

Those efforts still need to be hashed out with labor unions but will likely affect most of British Airways’s 42,000 employees and result in thousands of layoffs, said IAG, which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus.

“In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now,” the airline’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, wrote in a letter to staff, according to Reuters.

Globally, the airline industry is bleeding billions of dollars in cash, as some carriers face bankruptcy, other seek government aid and more than half of all passenger aircraft have been grounded due to shuttered borders. Scandinavian Airlines, TAP and Icelandair, among others, have already laid off thousands of workers.

For its part, British Airways has seen a 94 percent drop in passenger capacity compared to April and May of last year, and IAG’s revenue fell by about 13 percent last quarter.

With nearly 23,000 of the airline’s employees already furloughed, IAG said the worst is yet to come. The company did not receive a government bailout, and analysts predict air travel will take several years to return to pre-pandemic levels.

One union, the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said it would be fighting the company to hold onto every single position.

“This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the COVID storm,” the group said on Twitter. “BALPA does not accept that a case has been made for these job losses.”

By: Teo Armus

2:52 AM: For Brazil’s Bolsonaro, isolated by corruption probe and virus denial, the troubles mount

RIO DE JANEIRO — Investigators are circling. Supporters are turning their backs. Hundreds in his country are dying each day of a disease he has dismissed as a case of the sniffles. A majority of the people want him gone.

As Latin America’s largest country plunges into its gravest health and economic crises in a generation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the man best positioned to buoy a bewildered people, is floundering — hemmed in by scandal, aggrieved by perceived betrayals, unfocused and contradictory in public pronouncements.

His behavior has overlaid the health and economic emergencies with a political crisis, pushing Brazil into a period of extraordinary political volatility.

Read more here.

By: Terrence McCoy, Heloísa Traiano and Marina Lopes

2:36 AM: German doctors pose nude to protest PPE shortages

a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer: German doctors posing nude in their offices call themselves “Blanke Bedenken,” or “Naked Concerns.” German doctors posing nude in their offices call themselves “Blanke Bedenken,” or “Naked Concerns.”

A group of German doctors has launched an eye-catching campaign to call attention to shortages of personal protective equipment.

To convey how exposed they feel without masks, gloves and goggles, the physicians are stripping down and posing for nude photographs in their offices and examination rooms, often wearing nothing but a stethoscope. They call their protest “Blanke Bedenken,” which loosely translates as “Naked Concerns.”

Worldwide shortages of PPE have prompted Germany to ramp up domestic production, but the manufacturers capable of making protective gear have been overwhelmed with demand, according to the German newspaper Bild.

Doctors taking part in the protest are calling on government health officials to do more to procure masks, disinfectants and protective clothing. They also encourage German citizens to donate any extra PPE to local medical centers.

“When we run out of the little we have, we look like this,” the group’s website says.

Germany has seen a lower death rate from the novel coronavirus than other European nations like Italy and France, which has been credited to the country’s aggressive efforts to identify infection clusters through testing and contact tracing. The country has reported nearly 160,000 coronavirus cases and just over 6,300 deaths.

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By: Antonia Noori Farzan

2:26 AM: Pence’s mask-free visit to the Mayo Clinic speaks volumes about Trump’s coronavirus stance

Since mid-March, President Trump has adjusted his tone about the threat of the coronavirus — but only so much. Trump has continued to optimistically suggest that the virus might disappear sooner than experts say it could, and has played down the potential death toll and the severity of the situation.

On Tuesday, his approach seemed to bleed over in a way that prompted one of the country’s top hospitals to rebuke the White House.

Vice President Pence visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday. But conspicuously absent from his visit was a mask. Pence’s actions are difficult to divorce from Trump’s own stance toward masks. Even after the CDC advised people to wear face coverings in early April, Trump indicated that he didn’t plan to do so and that it was a personal choice for him.

Read more here.

By: Aaron Blake

1:56 AM: Dispute over coronavirus probe intensifies as China accuses Australia of ‘petty tricks’

Simmering tensions over a coronavirus probe heated up Wednesday, as China accused Australia of “petty tricks.”

Australia’s government has joined the United States in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, including China’s role in the outbreak. Earlier this week, Cheng Jingye, China’s ambassador to Australia, warned that Beijing could retaliate with a consumer boycott that would lead to reduced tourism and demand for Australian exports. Australian officials hit back, accusing China of “economic coercion.”

The dispute intensified after Frances Adamson, the head of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, called Cheng to express concern Monday. In a move that the Australian Broadcasting Corp. described as “the equivalent of lobbing a small hand grenade,” the Chinese embassy publicized details of the call on its website the following day.

China defended itself against criticism Wednesday by claiming that Australian officials had leaked details of the call first. “The Embassy of China doesn’t play petty tricks, this is not our tradition. But if others do, we have to reciprocate,” a spokesman said in a statement to Reuters.

Amid the backdrop of rising hostility, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison emphasized Wednesday that the call for an investigation was not intended as a slight toward China. He told reporters that the country’s call for an independent review of the virus’s spread was “entirely reasonable and sensible” and not intended to target any one nation.

By: Antonia Noori Farzan

1:34 AM: Trump compels meat plants to stay open, as only some states look to reopen their economies

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Malls, factories and state governments took some steps toward reopening in many parts of the country Tuesday, as President Trump signed an executive order compelling meat processing plants to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Around the country, at least 20 meatpacking plants closed in recent weeks because of outbreaks and mounting worker deaths. Government officials and labor advocates alike have demanded that other facilities follow suit, even as pork and beef processing have fallen an estimated 25 percent.

Major meat companies are touting their role in the nation’s food supply chain, and Trump’s order classifies the plants as essential infrastructure that must remain open. Under the order, the government will provide additional protective gear for employees as well as guidance, The Washington Post reported.

With no federal mandate on reopening the economy, states have looked to lifting restrictions at varying speeds and paces. As states like Massachusetts extended closures through mid-May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will allow some businesses to reopen at the end of this week, although at only 25 percent capacity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he would make an announcement Wednesday on plans for his state, where a stay-at-home order expires Friday.

Meanwhile, at the White House, Trump sought to look beyond the deepening recession that economists say is pushing unemployment higher than at any time since the Great Depression.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department is expected to report that the economy has contracted faster than in the last quarter of 2008, as the global financial crisis was picking up.

But Trump said July, August and September would lead to a stronger rebound around the time of the November election.

“I think next year is going to be an unbelievably strong year,” he told reporters.

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By: Teo Armus

1:13 AM: As it works to expand coronavirus testing, Virginia heads to poor neighborhoods

a person talking on a cell phone: A health worker uses a swab to collect a sample from Richmond-area resident Wayne Thorpe, 70, for a coronavirus test on Tuesday. © John McDonnell/The Washington Post A health worker uses a swab to collect a sample from Richmond-area resident Wayne Thorpe, 70, for a coronavirus test on Tuesday.

RICHMOND — Tiffany Smith tilted her head way back, sending her long ponytail almost to her waist and allowing a nurse to stick a cotton swab up one nostril, then another.

“Oh, damn!” she said, wiping her nose after undergoing a free coronavirus test in an east Richmond parking lot. “Whoo!”

Though she hated how it felt, Smith, 47, had been seeking the nasal swab since she and her husband started having fevers, coughs, sweats and headaches about a week ago. Smith works at an assisted-living facility, where a co-worker caught the novel coronavirus. She and Charles, a self-employed barber, are uninsured, and the cost of tests at a private clinic was too steep.

“Patient First was talking, like, $90,” said Smith, who worries that if she and Charles have the virus, their five children could be next. One has been running a fever.

The Smiths got their tests Tuesday at Eastlawn Shopping Center, a forlorn plaza anchored by a shuttered Food Circus. Next door sits Creighton Court, a troubled public housing complex that the city would like to demolish.

But on this day, with dozens of medical personnel and volunteers decked out in masks, face shields and bright gowns, the site offered a possible way out of the pandemic — for a city where 13 out of 14 coronavirus fatalities have been African Americans, and for a state where testing has lagged most of the nation.

Read more here.

By: Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider

12:50 AM: White House is reviewing guidelines for reopening transit

a close up of a car window: A customer wears personal protective equipment while riding an MTA bus on Friday, April 24, 2020 in New York. © John Minchillo/AP A customer wears personal protective equipment while riding an MTA bus on Friday, April 24, 2020 in New York.

The White House is finalizing guidelines for the phased reopening of the economy that include detailed recommendations for transit, such as roping off seats, marking where passengers should stand and regularly checking the temperatures of workers to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The proposed guidelines being reviewed allow for the phased reopening of schools, workplaces, houses of worship, restaurants and other important gathering places after weeks of state and local government restrictions on dining, park use, schools and other essential functions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted the guidelines, which have not been officially released but were obtained by The Washington Post.

Read more here.

By: Justin George and Lena H. Sun

12:49 AM: Push to reopen economy runs up against workers and consumers worried about risk

a house that has a sign on the side of a road: Businesses stand temporarily closed in downtown Cartersville, Georgia on April 22. © Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg Businesses stand temporarily closed in downtown Cartersville, Georgia on April 22.

Plans for a swift reopening of malls, factories and other businesses accelerated Tuesday, but they quickly collided with the reality that persuading workers and consumers to overlook their coronavirus fears and resume their roles in powering the U.S. economy may prove difficult.

President Trump on Tuesday evening issued an executive order that gives the federal government broad powers to ensure that meat and poultry-processing plants remain open during the pandemic. The move, designed to avert widespread food shortages, came after the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence had plunged to its lowest mark in six years.

Read more here.

By: David J. Lynch and Abha Bhattarai

12:48 AM: NYC emergency doctor dies by suicide, underscoring a secondary danger of the pandemic

A New York City emergency room director died by suicide on Sunday after treating coronavirus patients and contracting the illness, according to police and the hospital where she worked.

Lorna Breen, chair of the emergency medicine department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died of self-inflicted injuries Sunday after being transported to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, police said.

Breen’s father, Philip C. Breen, told the New York Times that she had described coronavirus patients flooding her hospital and sometimes dying before they could be removed from the ambulances. She had no history of mental illness but seemed detached before she died, the Times reported.

Read more here.

By: Marisa Iati and Kim Bellware

12:46 AM: Here’s what you need to know: How the meat industry’s supply chain broke in a month

a person cooking food in a store: An employee stocks the meat section at a grocery store in Dearborn Heights, Mich., on April 23. (Elaine Cromie/Getty Images) An employee stocks the meat section at a grocery store in Dearborn Heights, Mich., on April 23. (Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic is now endangering the U.S. beef, chicken and pork supply chain. Worker illness has shut down meat-processing plants and forced remaining facilities to slow production to accommodate absenteeism and social-distancing protocols.

This problem has been building since mid-March, but it appears to have hit a critical point this week. On Sunday, Tyson Foods, the country’s second-largest processor of chicken, beef and pork, warned that the U.S. “food supply chain is breaking.”

What will that mean to consumers? Read more here.

By: Laura Reiley

12:45 AM: His name on stimulus checks, Trump sends a gushing letter to 90 million people

a close up of text on a white background: A letter from the IRS, signed by President Trump, notifies a family via U.S. mail of an economic impact payment direct deposit made to their account. © Charles Krupa/AP A letter from the IRS, signed by President Trump, notifies a family via U.S. mail of an economic impact payment direct deposit made to their account.

President Trump pushed to have his name printed on the economic stimulus payments the IRS is sending to tens of millions of Americans. Now he’s written a gushing letter to almost 90 million people, with his jagged signature in thick black pen.

The one-page letter, with one side printed in English and the other in Spanish, was required by the coronavirus economic package approved by Congress as a record of a deposit from the Treasury Department. The law does not say who should mail the letter.

Read more here.

By: Lisa Rein and Michelle Singletary

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