Jobless numbers soared, Democrats delayed their national convention, and the nation’s preeminent coronavirus expert required a security detail Thursday as the coronavirus death toll stretched beyond 5,000.
More than 1,000 people died of the coronavirus in the United States on Wednesday alone. A week ago the total was less than 1,300. President Donald Trump and federal health officials predicted a “very painful” period in the country’s fight against the public health emergency.
Jobless numbers released Thursday were stunning. New unemployment claims doubled to 6.6 million from last week’s record-setting 3.3 million.
FEMA asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags. The FBI seized, bought and distributed to healthcare workers “hoarded” masks, gowns and other equipment. The president fired social media shots at “complainer” governors.
The U.S. death toll was at 5,316 Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the death toll surpassed 50,000 and the virus has infected more than 980,000.
Local law enforcement grappling with policing stay-at-home orders
There’s a struggle across the U.S. to enforce a patchwork of new stay-at-home orders, social-distancing directives and quarantines imposed in an effort to contain the march of the coronavirus.
In Maryland, authorities have charged at least two people in recent days with violating bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people – an offense that could result in a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a flurry of self-quarantine orders, calling for visitors from heavily-infected states and cities to self-isolate for 14 days or risk 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In Florida, authorities charged the pastor of a mega-church with violating local orders prohibiting groupings of more than 10 people.
– Kevin Johnson and Richard Wolf
Jobless claims soar; 10% unemployment ahead?
The number of Americans who filed claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record 6.6 million last week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spark massive layoffs and furloughs across the nation. The 6.6 million jobless claims reported by the Labor Department on Thursday was double the prior week’s record-smashing total of nearly 3.3 million. U.S. stocks, hammered by steep declines Wednesday, were modestly higher in early trading Thursday.
“Sadly we’re only at the start of this process,” said James McCann, senior global economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “When we look at all the jobs at direct risk from social distancing policies, and those which could be affected indirectly, the numbers start to get pretty scary.”
– Jessica Menton
Democratic National Convention delayed until August
The 2020 Democratic National Convention has been pushed back to mid-August as organizers try to navigate the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The event, originally scheduled for July 13-17, will instead be held the week of Aug. 17. It’s unclear how many days the convention will be held as planning remains in flux.
After “giving thought to how it is this event can have the greatest impact in the electoral process and the greatest impact in terms of what we can bring to Milwaukee, we felt the best decision, not knowing all the answers, was to delay this,” Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmonese said. The GOP convention is set for Aug. 24-27.
– Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Trump: Some governors are ‘complainers,’ will never be satisfied
President Donald Trump insisted Thursday his team is delivering medical supplies to states nationwide and that some governors are “complainers” who will never be satisfied. “Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?)” Trump tweeted. “Remember, we are a backup for them.”
Trump did not specify which critics he was referring to, but a group of Democratic governors – that includes Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Andrew Cuomo of New York, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Jay Inslee of Washington state – have criticized the slow pace of federal assistance.
– David Jackson
FEMA asks Pentagon for 100,000 body bags
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags as the COVID-19 pandemic spirals. Known as mortuary pouches, the heavy-duty zippered bags are typically used in the military to contain the remains of troops killed in combat. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 5,000, and federal health officials have warned it could reach 100,000 or more before the crisis passes.
Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday that the Pentagon is responding to “FEMA’s prudent planning efforts” on behalf of state health agencies.”
– Tom Vanden Brook
FBI seizes ‘hoarded’ mask, PPE equipment
Personal protective equipment, including almost 200,000 N95 respirator masks, seized by the FBI’s Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force will be distributed to health care workers battling the pandemic, federal officials said Thursday. The FBI did not reveal any names of the “hoarders” and said it would pay fair market value for the merchandise. The supplies include 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, other equipment and sanitizer, the Justice Department said in a statement. It’s bound for the health departments in New York and New Jersey.
“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said.
New York could run out of ventilators within days
Demand for ventilators in New York hospitals could outstrip supply in less than a week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Thursday. “At current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile,” he said. He added some “good news” – the number of patients discharged from New York hospitals rose sharply Wednesday, although it remained short of patients being admitted.
There were 7,434 coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals in the state, up 21% from Tuesday. Cuomo said there were 13,383 people currently hospitalized, an increase of 1,157 (9.5%) from a day earlier. The state had 92,381 confirmed cases and 2,373 deaths as of Thursday morning, he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci threatened, gets security detail
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s public health face of the coronavirus pandemic, has been the target of online threats and has been issued an armed security detail, multiple media sources were reporting Thursday. Fauci, 79, declined to discuss his security at a recent news conference of the White House coronavirus task force. Details were vague, but the New York Times reported that Fauci was targeted by “conspiracy theorists.”
CNN, citing law enforcement officials, said the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General sought assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, which then deputized HHS officers to act as personal security for the doctor.
93% of global population facing travel restrictions
An overwhelming majority of the world’s population lives in a country with travel restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Pew Research shows that 93% of the world’s population – that’s 7.2 billion people – lives somewhere that has a restriction on people arriving from elsewhere who aren’t citizens or residents. And about 3 billion people (39%) reside where countries have shuttered borders completely to noncitizens and nonresidents.
In the U.S., all foreign nationals from China, Iran and certain European countries are barred from entering the United States. And the border between Canada and the U.S. is closed for nonessential travel.
– David Oliver
100,000 tests a day, but major issues remain
In the past week, testing has accelerated, and a mix of public and private labs execute more than 100,000 tests per day. Still, experts said, many patients and even healthcare providers are denied tests or must wait several days for results.
“It’s not as if it’s a train running along, as you might’ve heard,” said William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor of preventive medicine and an infectious-disease doctor. “Because testing is restricted still in many parts of the country.” Read more here.
– Ken Alltucker
NFL’s Patriots shuttling 1.2 million masks from China to Boston
The New England Patriots private jet is due back in Boston from China on Thursday, loaded with 1.2 million N95 masks that are crucial personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker secured 1.7 million masks through manufacturers but had no way to transport them to the U.S. Jonathan Kraft, the Patriots chief operating officer, is also a chairman of the board at Massachusetts General Hospital. An idea was born.
“In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said.
– Chris Bumbaca
National Guard helping in every state
More than 17,250 National Guard troops have been deployed in all 50 states and territories to help battle the coronavirus crisis. Assignments vary from disinfecting nursing homes in Georgia to removing the bodies of victims in New York City to helping police in Rhode Island pull over motorists with New York tags entering the state.
National Guard Bureau spokesperson April Cunningham said troops can be used for everything from traffic control to crowd control but there is no plan to use them to impose quarantine, enforce shelter in place operation, “or any kind of large-scale lock-down capacity.”
– Doug Stanglin
NYC names former top cop as COVID-19 supply chain czar
Former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill was named COVID-19 senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, tapped to oversee the supply and distribution of personal protective and medical equipment within New York City hospitals.
O’Neill will “create, operationalize and manage a supply inspection regime” to ensure the rapid turnaround of new supplies and verify each hospital is pushing needed equipment to front line health care workers, de Blasio said in a statement.
O’Neill served 36 years in the department, including more than three years as commissioner from 2016-2019.
Chris Cuomo details brutal go-round with COVID-19
CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo says he chipped a tooth and hallucinated during a “freaky” first night after his diagnosis for COVID-19. Cuomo discussed the illness on his show “Cuomo Prime Time,” broadcast Wednesday night from isolation in his basement. The 49-year-old brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet Tuesday that he tested positive after being exposed to people who are infected.
“This virus came at me, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cuomo said Wednesday, adding that he had a fever of more than 103 “that would not quit. And it was like somebody was beating me like a piñata.”
– Anika Reed and Brian Truitt