CORONAVIRUS:

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  • Airport officials already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit New Orleans particularly hard, had another matter to deal with last week when a Colorado woman showed up naked and refused to leave, authorities said. Mariel Vergara, 27, of Pueblo, walked into Louis Armstrong International Airport the night of April 3 completely naked, according to NOLA.com. Witnesses told the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office she strolled up to the Spirit Airlines ticket counter. Airline workers told Vergara she could not travel that way and asked her to leave, NOLA.com reported. She refused. By the time a deputy arrived, Vergara had donned a dress, the news site said. She was still cited for violating public decency laws, however, because she was allegedly wearing no underwear, leaving her genital area visible beneath the short dress. Vergara refused deputies’ commands to leave the airport, authorities said. She fought with them as she was taken into custody, NOLA.com reported. Jefferson Parish jail records show Vergara was booked early Saturday on charges of obscenity, entering or remaining after being forbidden, resisting an officer, battery of a police officer and simple battery. While jailed, she was charged Thursday with two additional crimes: resisting an officer by violence and battery of a corrections officer. Details of those charges were not immediately available, NOLA.com said.
  • A Michigan mother, believed to be the state’s first coronavirus patient to give birth, is back home after having a healthy baby girl. Mallory Pease was nine months pregnant when she started showing symptoms of the coronavirus, including a sore throat, cough, and aches and pains, WWMT reported. “I definitely didn’t think that I would’ve contracted it, especially right before I gave birth,' Pease told WWMT. “It was hard to tell what was being nine months pregnant, and what was actually sickness.” She went into labor March 22. “(The doctor) was like, ‘Are you having a contraction or are you just that out of breath?’ And I was like, ‘I can’t breathe,'' Pease said. Alivia was born five hours later. After spending about five minutes with the newborn, she was taken to an isolated nursery, WWMT reported. Alivia tested negative for the coronavirus. “We think we’re the first hospital, and Mallory's the first patient in Michigan to deliver being COVID positive, and so that being said, there was not a lot of information really to pull from and to guide what our plan was going to be,' nurse Julie Smalley told WWMT. Pease was taken to the hospital’s coronavirus ward. She was isolated from her family for the next four days. On Thursday, she was reunited with Alivia and the rest of her family. “It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around,” Pease told WWMT. “It’s just one in a million I guess.” There are 21,375 confirmed cases and 1,076 deaths from the coronavirus in Michigan, according to The New York Times.
  • More than 1.6 million people worldwide – including more than 475,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, April 10, continue below:  Feds buying machines to sterilize N95 masks, allowing health care workers to use of cloth gowns Update 3 p.m. EDT April 10: Food and Drug Administration Administrator Stephen Hahn said Friday that his agency has approved of two companies to sterilize N95 masks for reuse by health care professionals and approved of allowing the use of cloth gowns in medical settings. Hahn said Friday that 60 machines, each capable of sterilizing 80,000 masks per day, were being bought by the federal government. The machines will be sent to facilities nationwide. Hahn also said the FDA has revised guidance around the use of cloth gowns in medical settings instead of the plastic ones typically used. “This is not something that normally happens around the country,” he said. The revision was made in order to help health care workers who are struggling with a shortage of medical gowns. Trump bemoans loss of life due to coronavirus Update 2:30 p.m. EDT April 10: President Donald Trump on Friday bemoaned the “horrible” number of Americans who have died due to the coronavirus while pointing to signs of hope that infection rates are stabilizing nationwide. “In the midst of grief and pain” the country is seeing “clear signs that our aggressive strategy” is working, Trump said. That included a decrease in hospital admissions in some places. Trump’s comments came on the same day that Johns Hopkins University’s worldwide death toll hit 100,000. Trump, who is weighing when to re-open the country’s economy, pointed to models that are now forecasting U.S. death rates far lower than originally estimated. “We’re saving so many lives compared to what it could have been,” he said. But experts have warned that re-opening the country too soon could cause a devastating new spike in infections. ‘We have not hit the peak’ of coronavirus infections, US officials say Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 10: Officials on the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force warned Friday that although there are signs nationwide that the virus infection rate is slowing, the United States has yet to hit its peak infection rate. “As encouraging as (the signs) are, we have not hit the peak,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, emphasized that despite the positive signs, “this is not the time ... (to be) pulling back at all' in terms of social distancing measures. President Donald Trump said that there are indications that the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the U.S. could be “headed to a number substantially below the 100,000” mark he previously named as the minimum expected deaths from the virus. “Hard to believe that if you had 60,000 (deaths), you can never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking,” he said. Coronavirus Task Force holding news briefing Friday Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 10: Officials with the federal Coronavirus Task Force are holding a news conference Friday to update the public on ongoing efforts to stymie the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. More than 100,000 killed by COVID-19 worldwide Update 1:45 p.m. EDT April 10: The world reached a grim milestone Friday in the coronavirus pandemic when the death toll associated with the virus topped 100,000 globally, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. A majority of the world’s coronavirus deaths were reported in Italy, where health officials have reported 18,849 deaths. The second-most number of fatal cases was reported in the United States, where more than 17,000 people have died. Spain had the third most number of COVID-19 deaths in the world with 15,843 reported deaths. Louisiana reports 970 new coronavirus infections Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 10: Officials in Louisiana reported 970 new coronavirus infections Friday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 19,253. The number was slightly lower than the 1,263 new cases reported Thursday. Officials also reported 53 more fatal coronavirus cases. Statewide, 755 people have died of COVID-19. Feds launch investigation of veterans nursing home stricken by virus Update 1:35 p.m. EDT April 10: The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division have opened an investigation into the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where more than two dozen residents have died since March, WFXT reported. >> Read more on Boston25News.com The investigation, which is separate from one being conducted by the state attorney general and Gov. Charlie Baker, will focus on whether the soldiers’ home “violated the rights of residents by failing to provide them adequate medical care generally, and during the coronavirus pandemic.” UK officials report nearly 1,000 new fatal coronavirus cases Update 1:20 p.m. EDT April 10: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 980 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 8,958. The number was slightly higher than the 881 new fatal coronavirus cases reported one day earlier. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced a total of 73,758 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. The number was 8,681 higher than the number of cases reported nationwide Thursday. Nearly 20,000 coronavirus cases reported in Pennsylvania Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 10: Health officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,751 new COVID-19 cases Friday, raising the state’s total number of coronavirus infections to 19,979, WPXI reported. Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 78 new deaths, more than twice the 29 new deaths reported Thursday. According to WPXI, 416 people have died of coronavirus in the state. Trump participates in Oval Office Easter prayer Update 1 p.m. EDT April 10: President Donald Trump said Friday that although Americans will not be able to gather as they normally would on Easter, they can use “this sacred time” to focus on prayer, reflection and on growing their relationship with God. The president participated in an Easter prayer from the Oval Office on Good Friday. He acknowledged the sacrifices that people are making to end the pandemic, saying “at this holy time, our nation is engaged in a battle like never before.” The president asked all Americans to pray that God would heal the nation, bring comfort to those who are grieving and to give strength to the nation’s health care providers. Connecticut governor extends social distancing measures until May 20 Update 12:55 p.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut extended his state’s mandated social distancing measures Friday until May 20 due to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19. In a statement posted on Twitter, Lamont said data has shown the curve beginning to flatten in Connecticut, but he warned that 'returning to normal too soon will have too many negative consequences. “I will continue to consult with medical experts every day and do our best to protect the health and safety of Connecticut,” he said. HHS begins distributing $30B in grants for health care systems Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 10: Officials with the federal Health and Human Services Department said Friday that they’re releasing the first $30 billion in grants provided by the stimulus bill to help keep the U.S. health care system operating during the coronavirus outbreak. Congress provided $100 billion for the health care system in the $2 trillion stimulus bill. Officials said the relief funds will go to hospitals and doctors through Medicare and will be based on their billings to the program last year. Hospitals are supposed to use some of the money to cover COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, although an independent study earlier this week suggested it might not be enough. New York governor ‘cautiously optimistic’ COVID-19 infection rate slowing Update 11:50 a.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Friday that he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing in the state, which has recorded more coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the world except the United States itself. Cuomo said Friday that 777 new fatal coronavirus cases have been reported, slightly lower than the 799 fatal cases reported one day earlier. The governor added that admissions to intensive care units were down to a negative number for the first time Friday, making him “cautiously optimistic” that the infection rate has slowed. Still, the governor urged New Yorkers continue social distancing efforts. “What we do today will affect the infection rate two to three days from now,” he said Friday at a news conference. “Even though it is a grind, we have to stay with it.” Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 7,844 people have died of COVID-19 in New York. Vermont governor extends state’s state of emergency Update 11:40 a.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont said Friday that he’s extending a previously issued state of emergency until May 15 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “These are incredibly difficult times, and I know this extension is disappointing news for many,” Scott said in a statement posted Friday on Twitter. “But the fact is, Vermonters are saving hundreds of lives by staying home. We’re making big sacrifices to save lives but we can’t let our foot off the gas yet.” The state of emergency was declared March 13 and originally set to expire April 15. Florida officials report 705 new coronavirus cases Update 11:25 a.m. EDT April 10: Health officials in Florida reported 705 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 17,531, WFTV reported. A vast majority of the cases involve Florida residents, according to the Florida Department of Health. Officials also reported 19 new coronavirus-related deaths, WFTV reported. Statewide, 390 people have died of COVID-19. More than 1,600 coronavirus infections reported in DC Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 10: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Friday that 137 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, bringing the total number of cases in the capitol to 1,660. Bowser said Friday that six people between the ages of 61 and 89 also died of COVID-19. Thirty-eight Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said. New Jersey governor signing order that may release some low-risk inmates Update 11:10 a.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Friday that he’s signing an executive order which may allow some low-risk inmates to be paroled early amid the coronavirus pandemic. Murphy said the order will establish a process “to provide temporary home confinement for certain incarcerated individuals or grant parole if already eligible.” “Social distancing is extremely hard to accomplish in a prison setting,” he said. “Allowing some of our most vulnerable individuals who do not pose a public safety threat to temporarily leave prison will protect both their health and the health of those working in our correctional facilities.” Among the inmates who would be affected by the order are those at-risk of serious complications from COVID-19 due to their age or health status, inmates who were denied parole within the last year and inmates whose sentences are set to expire in the next three months. “No one convicted of a serious crime – such as murder, or sexual assault, among others – will be eligible for consideration,” Murphy said. Florida judge rules isolation order violators can be jailed without bond Update 11:05 a.m. EDT April 10: The chief judge over Brevard and Seminole counties in Florida issued an order this week saying that people suspected of violating isolation orders can be held in jail without bond until they see a judge, WFTV reported. The preemptive decision was aimed at helping officials determine how to handle such cases if they arise, according to the news station. Chief Judge Lisa Davidson said in a statement that the order applies solely to individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 and who ignore commonsense guidelines for social distancing and self-quarantining anyway, WFTV reported. >> Read more on WFTV.com About 100 people opposed to Ohio’s stay-at-home order protest at statehouse Update 10:55 a.m. EDT April 10: About 100 protesters gathered Thursday outside Ohio’s statehouse in opposition to Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, which they claim is unconstitutional, WHIO-TV reported. >> Read more on WHIO.com DeWine told reporters Thursday that the protesters had “every right to be there.” “They have every right to say what they want to say,' DeWine said, according to WHIO-TV. 'My job is to communicate as honestly and candidly as I can. I will guarantee you will not be going to keep these orders on one day longer than we have to.” 3,627 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Jersey Update 10:45 a.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said health officials reported 3,748 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 54,588 in the state. The number is slightly lower than the 3,748 new cases reported Thursday but higher than the 3,088 new cases reported Wednesday. Officials also reported 233 new fatal COVID-19 cases Friday. Statewide, 1,932 people have died of coronavirus. University of Mississippi cancels in-person events until August Update 10:30 a.m. EDT April 10: Officials with the University of Mississippi announced Friday that in-person, on-campus summer camps, conferences and events will be canceled through Aug. 1, WHBQ-TV reported. Officials with Ole Miss said online or remote experiences would be offered where possible, according to the news station. >> Read more on Fox13Memphis.com Oklahoma high school 3D printing respirators for hospitals Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 10: Companies and at least one high school in Oklahoma are using 3D printers to produce ventilators for area hospitals, KOKI-TV reported. A bulk of the respirators are being printed in the fabrication lab at Muskogee High School, the news station reported. Other companies, including Indiana Capital Technology Center and Optronics, are helping with the project. KOKI-TV reported that producers hope to have the first batch of ventilators out to health care providers by next week. >> Read more on Fox23.com Ohio manufacturers team up to produce face shields for health workers Update 10:10 a.m. EDT April 10: A partnership of Ohio manufacturers led by the recently created Ohio Manufacturing Alliance are working together to make personal protective gear for health care workers amid the coronavirus outbreak, WHIO-TV reported. Four companies that typically produce tools and molds, including Trifecta Tool and Engineering in Kettering, are making molds for face shields, the news station reported. Four more companies, including Evenflo in Piqua, will begin mass production of face shields next week with a goal of producing 650,000 shields across the state within four weeks. “Our manufacturers have been busy, rapidly doing the hard work required to transform production lines, design products and source materials from supply chains to make the PPE that is critical to keeping our front line workers safe,' said Phil Ratermann, director of FastLane, the group coordinating the effort, according to WHIO-TV. >> Read mo>> Read more on WHIO.comre on WHIO.com UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recovering from COVID-19, ‘must rest up,’ father says Update 10 a.m. EDT April 10: The father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that his son “must rest up” after he was moved Thursday out of intensive care at a London hospital. “He almost took one of the team and we’ve got to make sure we play properly now,” Stanley Johnson told BBC News on Friday. A spokesman for 10 Downing Street told the news network that Johnson is in an “early stage' of his coronavirus recovery and that he “continues to be in good spirits.' Johnson spent three nights in an intensive care unit at London’s St. Thomas’ Hospital. He tested positive March 26 for COVID-19. Atlanta buildings light up in blue in support of front line workers Update 9:55 a.m. EDT April 10: Landmarks and buildings across the country are being lit in blue to show appreciation for workers on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, WSB-TV reported. >> Read more on WSBTV.com A few places in metro Atlanta joined the #LightItBlue campaign Thursday, including the Braves’ Truist Park, according to WSB-TV. Washington working to release nonviolent offenders from prison, governor says  Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 10: Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and state Corrections Secretary Steve Sinclair said Thursday that officials were working to release some nonviolent offenders from prison due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, KIRO-TV reported. The announcement came less than a day after more than 100 inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex “revolted” when they learned six fellow inmates and five prison staff members all tested positive for the coronavirus. No one was injured, according to KIRO-TV. >> Read more on KIRO7.com Fauci: Officials discussing possibility of immunity certificates Update 9:20 a.m. EDT April 10: Federal officials are mulling over the possibility of having Americans carry certificates of immunity as authorities continue working to contain the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not,” Fauci said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.-'This is something that’s being discussed. I think it’s something that might actually have some merit under certain circumstances.' Antibody test will be available to Americans ‘in a week or so,’ Fauci says Update 8:50 a.m. EDT April 10: Americans wondering whether they’ve unknowingly had and recovered from COVID-19 will have access to antibody tests in about a week, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday. “In the period of a week or so, we’re going to have a rather large number of tests that are available,” Fauci said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday. “These antibody tests are tests that we do on other diseases but they need to be validated. You need to make sure that they’re consistent and that they’re accurate. And that’s what we’re doing now.” Fauci said the tests will be particularly useful while figuring out when to allow businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic to reopen. “It’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated the society because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected,' Fauci said. “If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate a kind of strategy about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable of getting infected. This will be important for health care workers, for first line fighters -- those kinds of people.” Global coronavirus deaths approach 97K, worldwide cases top 1.6M Update 8:02 a.m. EDT April 10: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 96,787 early Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 1,612,646 people worldwide. Five countries – the United States, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – have now confirmed total infection counts well above China’s 82,940 cases. • The United States has reported 466,299 cases, resulting in 16,686 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 157,022 cases, resulting in 15,843 deaths. • Italy has reported 143,626 infections, resulting in 18,279 deaths. • France has confirmed 118,785 infections, resulting in 12,228 deaths. • Germany has reported 118,235 cases, resulting in 2,607 deaths. • China has recorded 82,940 cases, resulting in 3,340 deaths. • Iran has recorded 66,220 cases, resulting in 4,110 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 65,872 cases, resulting in 7,993 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 42,282 cases, resulting in 908 deaths. • Belgium has confirmed 26,667 cases, resulting in 3,019 deaths. NY hires contractors to bury dead as coronavirus toll continues mounting Update 7:06 a.m. EDT April 10: After three consecutive days of record-breaking coronavirus deaths, New York City officials have hired contract laborers to bury the dead in its potter’s field on Hart Island. Since the 19th century, the city has used the site off the coast of the Bronx borough for primarily indigent burials and those for whom no next of kin could be located, Reuters reported. Read more here. WeWork proposes redesigned shared-office layouts for a post-coronavirus workforce Update 5:31 a.m. EDT April 10: WeWork has a few tweaks in mind for shared office space in a post-coronavirus world, The Washington Post reported. The shared workspace company has proposed in an email to clients and real estate brokers, obtained by the Post, the adoption of new floor plans, the addition of sanitizing capabilities and foot traffic-flow reviews, The Washington Post reported. WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani stated in the email the adaptive steps will be implemented over the next six weeks and will include enhanced cleaning techniques, the posting of new capacity signage for meeting rooms and the adoption of “every other” desk occupancy in private offices. Yemen confirms 1st novel coronavirus case Update 5:20 a.m. EDT April 10: War-torn Yemen confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Friday. According to The Associated Press, the national emergency committee for COVID-19 infections in Yemen’s southeastern province of Hadramawt said in a tweet the patient is in stable condition and receiving treatment. Nasser Baoum, the minister of health for Yemen’s internationally recognized government, told the AP the case involves a 73-year-old Yemeni national who works at the al-Shahr port in Hadramawt. Amazon developing own coronavirus testing lab after workers in 64 warehouses fall ill Update 4:58 a.m. EDT April 10: In a bid to fast-track the return of operations to normal, Amazon announced Thursday it is developing its own laboratory to screen its workers for the novel coronavirus. In a blog post made public Thursday, the Seattle-based e-commerce juggernaut said it has begun assembling the necessary equipment to build the testing facility and is hopeful testing for “small numbers of our front-line employees soon.” According to The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, employees in at least 64 of the company’s warehouses and shipping facilities have tested positive for the virus. “Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running,” Amazon wrote in its blog post, adding, “But, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available.” In reversal, coronavirus testing sites to maintain threatened federal funds if desired Update 3:15 a.m. EDT April 10: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reversed course Thursday, announcing community-based novel coronavirus testing sites across the country will continue to receive federal funding. In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the HHS announced local authorities can now opt to maintain federal oversight and assistance or transition to state control which would still include federal technical assistance as well as supply requests through traditional FEMA channels. FDA warns Infowars founder Alex Jones to halt promotion of unapproved coronavirus cures Update 2 a.m. EDT April 10: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned InfoWars founder Alex Jones to remove several products advertised on his website as potential coronavirus cures. In a letter to Jones, the FDA singled out products such as “SuperSilver Whitening Toothpaste,” the “SuperSilver Wound Dressing Gel” and “Superblue Fluoride Free Toothpaste” as both 'unapproved” and “misbranded” in violation of agency regulations. Specifically, the letter requests Jones “take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.” US coronavirus deaths hit 16,690, total cases top 466K Published 12:47 a.m. EDT April 10: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 466,000 early Friday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 466,033 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 16,690 deaths. U.S. cases now more than triple the 153,222 reported in Spain and the 143,626 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 7,067 – or roughly 42% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 1,709 in New Jersey, 1,076 in Michigan, 702 in Louisiana and 551 in California. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 161,799 confirmed cases – more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 51,027, Michigan with 21,504 and California with 19,950. Five other states have now confirmed at least 16,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • Massachusetts: 18,941, resulting in 503 deaths • Pennsylvania: 18,633, resulting in 365 deaths • Louisiana: 18,283, resulting in 702 deaths • Florida: 16,826, resulting in 371 deaths • Illinois: 16,422, resulting in 528 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia and Texas each has confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus infections; Connecticut and Washington state each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Indiana, Colorado and Maryland each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases; Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; North Carolina, Missouri and Arizona each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Nevada and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A mother and her son with Down syndrome in New Jersey died of the coronavirus a week apart. Carolyn Martins-Reitz died in late March. About a week later, her son, Thomas Martins, died on his 30th birthday, WPIX reported.'They were just very, very close. He was her world and she the same for him,” Dana Regan, director of a special needs program, told WPIX. Regan had known Carolyn and Thomas for more than 10 years. “He was an avid dancer -- loved music. He was everybody’s friend,” Regan told WPIX. “Thomas was a very upbeat, happy-go-lucky kind of guy -- always smiling, super friendly.” Thomas’s stepfather and sister are dealing with both losses. A GoFundMe account was set up to help pay funeral and medical costs.
  • The family of a Chicago-area Walmart employee who died of COVID-19 has filed a lawsuit against the retail giant, citing negligence in keeping its employees protected against the coronavirus. Wando Evans, 51, is one of two employees to die of the virus at the same Walmart store in Evergreen Park, a village about 15 miles south of Chicago. He died March 25 and his co-worker, Phillip Thomas, 48, died four days later. WGN-TV reported that Evans had worked as an overnight stocker and maintenance associate for Walmart for 15 years. Thomas was a nine-year veteran worker. A medical examiner found that both men died of COVID-19 complications. According to the Chicago Tribune, obesity was a contributing factor in Evans’ death. “When we initially took on this case, we were trying to help the Evans family get answers,” attorney Tony Kalogerakos said in a statement on Facebook. “We didn't realize this would be the first wrongful death lawsuit in the country for disregarding COVID. “We now have Walmart employees from around the country thanking us because Walmart finally stopped ignoring their employee requests, and are attempting to follow CDC measures to protect its essential workers. Although it took two deaths at the same Walmart, it's never too late to start implementing safe procedures.” A Walmart spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying company officials “take the issue seriously and will respond with the court once we have been served with the complaint,” NBC Chicago reported. The lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of Evans’ brother, Toney Evans, alleges willful and wanton misconduct, reckless disregard and gross negligence, the Tribune reported. According to the newspaper, the suit alleges store management ignored Evans’ complaints that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, as were other employees of the store. Reuters reported that the suit claims Walmart also hired new workers in a rushed process that failed to screen them for COVID-19 symptoms. Evans was sent home sick March 23, according to his family. He was found dead in his home two days later. The family’s timeline conflicts with that of Walmart officials, who said in a statement following the deaths that neither Evans nor Thomas had been in the store for at least a week before each man died, according to USA Today. “We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store, and we are mourning along with their families,” Walmart officials told the newspaper last week. The court filing states Walmart management did not properly clean the store or promote adequate social distancing guidelines prior to Evans’ and Thomas’ deaths, NBC Chicago reported. Evans’ family also claims managers failed to inform employees that some workers had symptoms. The document alleges Evans and other employees were not provided with personal protective equipment, like masks, gloves or sanitizer, the news station said. The lawsuit states those failures violated the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Tribune reported. Kalogerakos said in a statement obtained by the newspaper that he has asked OSHA to investigate how Walmart handled the situation. “At a minimum, (managers) were responsible for notifying store workers that a colleague had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, providing their employees personal protective equipment such as masks and latex gloves, implementing social distancing and sending exposed employees’ home until cleared by medical professionals,” the attorney said. NBC Chicago reported that the deaths of Evans and Thomas prompted Walmart to hire a third-party company to clean and sanitize all “high-touch surfaces” in the Evergreen Park store, including the front entrances, carts, registers and bathrooms. The retailer also began implementing stricter safeguards in all its stores. “Additionally, we have taken steps across the country to protect our associates and customers, including additional cleaning measures, installing sneeze guards at registers, placing social distancing decals on the floors and limiting the number of customers in a store at a given time,” spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement. “We’ll continue to take steps, such as screening associates, conducting temperature checks, and providing masks and gloves for associates that want to use them.” Daryl Bell, a friend of Evans, told NBC Chicago last week that he was saddened to learn about the death of his friend, who he described as a religious man with a good heart. Evans was engaged to be married, he said. “I’m devastated because I know I won’t get a chance to say goodbye to him,” Bell told the news station.

Washington Insider

  • Five days after the commander of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier was removed from his post after his plea for Coronavirus help leaked into the press, Pentagon officials reported that at least 11 percent of the crew of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt had tested positive for the virus, raising questions about how outbreaks might impact military readiness. 'There's 5,000 sailors on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,' said said Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten. 'To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan.'  As for the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy was quickly testing all aboard. '3170 of the crew tested negative. 416 have tested positive,' said Hyten, who told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that over 1,100 crew members are still awaiting the results of their tests. One sailor had been admitted to an intensive care unit. 'This will be a new way of doing business that we have to focus in on,' Hyten added, acknowledging the military is watching closely, and trying to figure out answers. 'How do we quarantine a ship before it goes out? How do we consolidate the ship so we can operate?' Hyten said. 'We have a couple of other small pockets - not the size of the Teddy Roosevelt - but small, that we have to focus in on,' the General said of virus threats writ large to the armed services. The data about the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt came about a week after Captain Brett Crozier appealed for help on his ship - a move which ultimately spurred his ouster, and then resulted in the resignation of the Acting Navy Secretary, after he flew 2,500 miles to visit the ship, and ridiculed Crozier's leadership. Along with the Theodore Roosevelt, there are confirmed Coronavirus cases on two other U.S. Navy carriers - the U.S.S. Nimitz, and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. 'There's been a very small number of breakouts on the Nimitz, and we're watching that very closely,' Hyten said, going against other Navy denials of virus cases on board that vessel. Overall, the military still says the threat from the virus is low to active duty service members, in part because of their young age. 'In aggregate, the slope is low and slow,' Gen. Hyten said.