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National

    Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl who helped launch movement that led to sweeping changes in marijuana laws worldwide, died in Colorado Springs from complications related to the coronavirus, her family announced on social media. She was 13. A friend of Figi’s family posted news of the girl’s death on Facebook on Tuesday, noting that 'Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love.” Realm of Caring Foundation a nonprofit that focuses on medical cannabis research and education, attributed Figi’s death to “COVID-19 complications” in a Facebook post. Neither El Paso County nor state health officials have publicly announced the death of a 13-year-old Colorado resident due to the coronavirus, The Denver Post reported. If confirmed, Figi would be the youngest person to die in Colorado in connection with COVID-19, the newspaper reported. Figi suffered from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that caused her to have violent seizures, KDVR reported. Her use of cannabis oil to treat the seizures helped curb them, the television station reported. Figi had been suffering from seizures since she was 3 months old and pharmaceutical treatments had been ineffective, The Colorado Sun reported. When Figi was 5, her mother, Paige Figi, gave her cannabidiol, the compound in cannabis commonly known as CBD, the Post reported. The CBD strain of cannabis that helped Charlotte Figi was named Charlotte’s Web in her honor, according to the Sun. Paige Figi and the founders of the Charlotte’s Web product became advocates for legalizing CBD, the newspaper reported. The Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act was passed by Congress in 2014. “Your work is done Charlotte, the world is changed, and you can now rest knowing that you leave the world a better place,” the Realm of Caring Foundation wrote on Instagram. In a Facebook post, the Charlotte’s Web team eulogized Charlotte. “What began as her story, became the shared story of hundreds of thousands, and the inspiration of many millions more in the journey of their betterment,” the team wrote. “Charlotte was and will be, the heartbeat of our passion, and the conviction that the dignity and health of a human being is their right.”
  • A man is accused of sucker punching a New York City police officer on video as the officer assisted Tuesday with a robbery arrest. Nelson Jimenez, 31, is charged with assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration, amid other charges, according to the New York Daily News. The incident occurred around 5 p.m. Thursday in the Bronx, where officers from the 52nd Precinct were taking into custody a man wanted for a February robbery, the Daily News reported. A 27-second cellphone video of the arrest shows two officers struggling to handcuff a man on the ground. A bystander, identified by police as Jimenez, can be seen stepping behind one of the officers. Jimenez wore a baseball cap, sunglasses and a surgical mask as an apparent attempt to avoid the spread of COVID-19. In the video, the masked man steps away from the skirmish for a few moments before again stepping behind the officer and punching him in the back of the head. The blow was hard enough to knock the officer’s knit cap off his head. The assailant throws another punch before stepping back from the officer, who by this time has pulled a yellow Taser from his belt, the video shows. The assailant is last seen in the video running down the street to a nearby bodega, where the Daily News reported he was taken into custody. He kicked the already-assaulted officer in the groin and thigh before being subdued, the newspaper said. “He ran, we caught him (and) charges are pending,” police officials said in a tweet accompanying the video Tuesday evening. Authorities said detectives are working “hand-in-hand” with Bronx prosecutors to hold Jimenez accountable for the unprovoked attack. “The NYPD has kept NYers safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with historic amounts of cops going sick,” the tweet from the department said. “We won't tolerate this kind of disrespect.” According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 2,000 uniformed NYPD officers have tested positive for COVID-19, as have 338 civilian employees. About 20% of the department’s workforce was out sick Wednesday. A total of 12 civilian employees and one uniformed officer have died of the virus since March 26. New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday’s attack went beyond disrespect. “This is premeditated assault on a uniformed police officer, your police officer,” Shea tweeted Wednesday morning. “Disturbing on many levels, what he should now receive is a conviction for a Class D felony and a lengthy sentence in state prison. Period.” The Daily News reported that Jimenez’s alleged assault on the officer did not stop the arrest of the suspected robber, identified by the newspaper as 27-year-old Yoemdy Castro. Besides the robbery charge, Castro faces charges of resisting arrest, bail jumping, grand larceny and possession of stolen property, the paper said. A third man, Brandon Isom, is also accused of hitting an officer during Castro’s arrest. Isom, 25, is charged with assault on a police officer and obstructing governmental administration, the Daily News said.
  • The Louisiana pastor who preached courage from his deathbed. The nun who always insisted that her order “get down to brass tacks,” and help people. The rabbi who made sure his students did not lack clothes or books. Even as parishioners, followers and the faithful seek solace and strength from religious leaders in a time of pandemic, the list of those who have died includes more and more clergymen and women. As of April 6, Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference listed 96 priests among the dead. The dreaded daily uptick is reflected worldwide as spiritual leaders in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. are among the casualties. Here are a few of the religious leaders who have died, leaving gaping holes in the fabric of faith. ___ Days before COVID-19 killed him, a 64-year-old Louisiana minister sent a livestreamed Sunday message from his bed in a hospital isolation ward: Do not be afraid, be faithful and praise God. “I believe that all is well and that it is well with my soul,” said the Rev. Dr. Ron Hampton, pastor at New Vision Community Church, a Free Methodist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. “I keep a praise handy in my heart. I keep a word and I just continue to try to do the Lord’s will even from a hospital bed.” Two days later, he learned that he had the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The following night, he was dead. “I don’t think he let it shake him,” said his wife, Elsie Hampton. “I didn’t get to see him. But I saw his video.” --By Janet McConnaughey ___ The newly ordained Rev. Franco Minardi arrived in Ozzano Taro, a farming town of 1,200 people a dozen miles from his birthplace in Italy’s most fertile plain, in 1950. Minardi fought to enkindle the Catholic faith in youth -- and he never gave up for the 70 years he was Ozzano’s parish priest, until coronavirus killed him at 94. He built the tennis court, a games room, and what is still the local gathering spot, the theater where he projected the town’s first movies in the mid-1950s to an audience sitting on bins from the grape harvest. “Don Franco wanted to keep people close to the church, in order to bring them to Mass,” said the retired postmistress and town chronicler, Giuliana Savi, by phone from Ozzano, still in lockdown. “Sometimes it didn’t work, but he tried.” Minardi brought the same energy to his church, restoring it and re-installing bells. “Mass wasn’t a 35-minute affair, it was celebrated solemnly, with singing. He reprimanded us if we sped through the readings,” Savi recalled. --By Giovanna Dell’Orto ___ In mid-March, Sister Maria Mabel Spagnuolo took to YouTube to share the bad news with the 600 nuns in her order: Sister Maria Ortensia Turatir had died, one of one of six nuns killed by coronavirus in a convent in the northern Italian town of Tortona. “It’s as if a person disappeared in an instant,” Spagnoulo later told AP by phone, a particularly bitter parting from the cheerful 88-year-old nun who had carried out her vocation to serve society’s most marginalized by getting effortlessly close to them. Originally from Lombardy, Turati trained as a social worker, served as mother general of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity from 1993-2005, and traveled the world founding missions in the Philippines and Ivory Coast. She led her order with its many schools in Chile and helped reform the nuns’ formation practices. From Rome to Madagascar to Peru, the sisters are stitching masks, serving in hospitals and providing food and water to those without access to either -- as if still heeding Turati’s trademark advice: “I don’t want pious exhortations. Let’s get down to brass tacks.” --By Giovanna Dell’Orto ___ More than five decades into his career, the Rev. Marc. Frasez expressed the desire to keep working past the retirement age of 75, or at least to delay retirement and continue serving his parish. He died of COVID-19 at 74, leaving behind memories of a priest committed to his work, with a sensitive soul and a passion for painting. Ordained as priest 49 years ago, Frasez was an enduring figure in the Catholic community in the Versailles region in the suburbs of Paris. Since 2007, he had served the community as parish priest of Saint-Germain de Paris in Fontenay-le-Fleury in and beyond the small stone church with trademark enthusiasm and warmth. Marc, as he was known to his colleagues and friends, had a real artistic flair, devoting most of his free time to painting,” said his colleague Monseigneur Bruno Valentin, Auxiliary Bishop of Versailles. He was, said Valentin, an “original and sensitive man.” --By Thomas Adamson ___ Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei Golpayegani was a Shiite cleric, moderate by Iranian standards. He was known chiefly as one of the representatives for Tehran in the Assembly of Experts, an all-cleric body that will choose the successor of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was a learned man. He earned two PhDs, studied in Qom (Iran’s Vatican City and a home to major Shiite seminaries. The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Islamic Republic, was one of his teachers. He taught law at a university level. In an undated video, he accused the United States of creating the coronavirus to fight China. It appeared he was sick but he believed he would heal. On March 16th, he died. --By Amir Vahdat ___ Rabbi Yisroel Friedman was known as a scholar of the Talmud, the ancient text that forms the foundation of Jewish law. But his students say his biggest passion was more down-to-earth. Friedman helped students apply one of Judaism’s most sacred documents to everyday existence, said Rabbi Mendel Rubin, who studied under Friedman at Talmudic Seminary Oholei Torah in Brooklyn. When he died on April 1 at age 84, Friedman had spent more than 50 years as the top academic at the the seminary in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, a center of Hasidic Jewish life in New York City. Born in the former Soviet Union, Friedman came to the United States in 1956. Renowned for his keen intellect, Friedman was an expert hand at analyzing the writings of Rashi, a medieval rabbinical specialist in the Talmud. But, Rubin recalled, the scholar also would make sure to help struggling students, Rabbi Elyahu Silverberg, who also studied under Friedman in the early 1990s, recalled the late rabbi calling him over one day and asking about his study partner’s worn-out clothes. Did the young man need help buying a new suit? The rabbi offered to make that happen. --By Elana Schor
  • Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, your family is there, maybe a little too much. Bob Saget, John Stamos and the rest of the cast of “Full House” took time while the country practices isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic to remind fans to stay home and stay safe. The clip, which mimics the original show’s intro and was posted Wednesday to Facebook by Saget, features most of the original cast including Saget, Stamos, Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber. It ends with the message. “Stay safe and stay home. Unlike ‘Full House,’ this will go away.”
  • A group of engineers in southern Maryland said used breast pumps can be converted into ventilators, helping alleviate a crucial shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. “This has been really exciting for me,” engineer Rachel Labatt told WRC-TV. Labatt has been working with Brand Gerstner, Grant Gerstner, Alex Scott and Tommy Luginbill to develop the product, the television station reported. Currently, the team has been converting donated pumps. The process is quick and costs $250 per unit., WBAL reported. According to WRC, an air ventilator can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000; the television station placed the cost of the group’s prototypes at $500. Regardless of the cost, obtaining old breast pumps should be relatively simple. “Just as a mom, I spent a lot of time with those devices,” Brandi Gerstner told the television station. Brandi Gerstner said she wondered if it was possible to reverse the suction power of a breast pump, where it would expel air, WBAL reported. She said she used an X-Acto knife and a Phillips head screwdriver to make the transition. “This is the primary compressor unit that’s driving the suction and as you can see, it’s got an inlet and an outlet and this is the inlet and this is the outlet, so we just moved the tubing from one to the other,' Brandi Gerstner said. “That was the starting point.” “That is just by switching two tubes on the inside … we reversed the actions of the pump to now be a positive pressure system,” Labatt told WRC. The team calls the conversion an “intermittent positive pressure ventilation” device. which safely does the same job as a ventilator, the television station reported. There were a few more minor modifications, but the team believes they have created an instrument that meets the inhale-exhale ratio recommended by doctors. “We soldered a few pins onto the control board of the breast pump, and just used the Arduino to turn it on and off,” Scott told WBAL. When the prototype is ready, the engineer hope to get quick approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the television station reported. Once approved, the team will be ready to send the makeshift ventilators to hospitals in need of the devices. “If we can have engineers duplicate our efforts across the country so that ventilators can be used in other states quickly and manufactured there quickly, we would love that,” Labatt told WBAL. To donate a breast pump, or to receive more information, email breastpumpvent@gmail.com or info@somdlovesyou.org.
  • “Animo!” Courage! In life, the Rev. Jorge Ortiz-Garay would repeat the word in Spanish when he encouraged teenagers to stay in school, when he fed the homeless, when he consoled those who lost loved ones. Now, parishioners repeat his favorite word to pay homage to the devoted leader of their community, even when the pandemic won’t let them gather to mourn their beloved ‘Father Jorge.’ The pastor of St. Brigid Church in Brooklyn was the first Catholic cleric in the United States to die from the coronavirus outbreak. He was 49. Just days before he died on March 27, he officiated a Mass. He said he was healthy, and told parishioners that “the only way to fight this virus” was to love God and serve others. Like other churches around the globe, the pews of St. Brigid were empty that day; dozens prayed with him from home, via livestream. “The whole world is in crisis,” he said. “In this time of crisis and panic, it’s time to love and live our faith.” That faith led Ortiz to leave his native Mexico, where he had just graduated with a law degree, and follow his calling into the priesthood. He enrolled in seminary in Italy in the ’90s, and then studied theology in New Jersey before he was ordained at the Archdiocese of Newark in 2004. A decade later, he began his work at St. Brigid in Wyckoff Heights, an area straddling the border of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Ridgewood, Queens that is home to a large Hispanic population. He was the Diocesan Coordinator of the Ministry to Mexican immigrants and he oversaw the Diocese of Brooklyn’s annual ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day,’ which includes a Mass attended by thousands and a pilgrimage where the faithful carry flaming torches across New York City’s streets. “In the community, he was known to be a father -- a father to many,” said the Rev. Joseph Dutan, a 31-year-old priest at St. Brigid who lived one floor above him in the rectory – and stood beside him as he officiated his last Mass. “He was known as someone who was always going to be there for you in presence,” said Dutan. “Someone that they could run to when they needed help.” Dutan said his mentor was tough when he needed to be, loved busting people’s chops, and pulling pranks. But he had a big heart, and above all, he was devoted to his community. In photographs, Ortiz beams with pride in the pulpit, wearing priestly robes embroidered with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Another shows him refereeing a mock boxing match between teenagers who wear colorful, wide-brimmed sombreros. In videos, he sings Christmas Carols in Spanish with children. He was especially proud of his work leading youth groups, including last year’s trip to Panama for World Youth Day. Erik Chauca, 18, a former sacristan, credits ‘Father Jorge’ with encouraging him to return to college after he quit school. “I don’t even know what I would have been doing right now. Everything is thanks to him,” he said. “He cared so much about me,” Chauca said, crying. “I still can’t believe he’s gone.” It happened quickly, Dutan said: After the Mass, Ortiz fell ill but thought it was a minor cold because for years he had chronic bronchitis. His condition worsened. He felt weak and asked Dutan if he could officiate Masses in English and Spanish. Eventually Ortiz stopped coming out of his room, the younger priest said. “On Monday evening he told me: ‘Take me to the hospital.’ Dutan called an ambulance. He wanted to ride with his mentor, but they told him that for safety reasons, it was not allowed. They continued to exchange text messages after he was hospitalized at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, where Ortiz tested positive for COVID-19. “He told me: Joseph, I’m not scared. I know the Lord is with me. I might be able to celebrate Easter with the Lord,” Dutan said. “Father we need you to come back. You know I can’t sing! I need to you to sing ‘The Exsultet’ (The Easter Proclamation).” ‘Father Jorge’ wrote back: “‘You’re right! Hahaha!’” Hours later, Ortiz died. Dutan officiated Sunday Mass in his memory. He said that Ortiz would have been proud -- more than 1,500 people followed the Facebook livestream of the service, expressing their condolences in the comment section. Among them was Chauca, who saw Ortiz as a fatherly figure. “I just said Father George’s favorite phrase, which is ‘animo,’ Chauca said. “He would always tell everybody that. He would just say - ‘animo!’ keep your head up and just move on. That’s the only phrase that stuck in my head: ‘animo!’” ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content. ___
  • Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are coming to the aid of parents who are hold up in their homes with their children. The acting couple has started a virtual kids camp through their Hello Bello brand, CNN reported. Now, they’re looking for camp counselors to staff it. Last week, they started Camp Hello Bello on Instagram to provide activities to kids while parents are trying to keep their children from going stir crazy. Camp Hello Bello will post the week’s schedule which can include crafting lessons and singalongs every Sunday. There are even fitness classes to help spend some of that extra pent-up energy kids have. Camp is free and kids can even earn badges once they complete a session, and possibly win a prize. If you want to join the Hello Bello staff to help fill the rest of the month’s schedule, the company is accepting applications. You can click here to apply.
  • COVID-19 is a new virus and the pattern it follows when it attacks humans is being studied by researchers around the world. Different studies so far have found a common progression of the virus that generally begins with a fever, a dry cough and breathing difficulties. Two studies from China, where the virus is believed to have first been transmitted to humans, paint a picture of the progression of the symptoms those who have contracted COVID-19 suffer. The analysis includes adults with COVID-19 admitted to Jinyintan Hospital and Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital after Dec. 29, 2019, who had been discharged or died by Jan. 31. Doctors in the United States report seeing very similar disease progression where those who have a milder form of the virus begin recovery from fever, cough and shortness of breath about two weeks after the onset of symptoms. In those with a severe form of the virus, hospitalization, a move to the intensive care unit in a hospital and being placed on a ventilator followed closely the pattern of those who had suffered from the illness in China. Here are some takeaways from the studies in the U.S. and China: The first symptom of COVID-19 is usually a fever. The fever is often followed a few days later by a dry cough, one in which you do not cough up any phlegm, and shortness of breath. The first symptoms begin from two to 14 days after you have been exposed to the virus. A new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests a median time of about five days. The average duration of fever was 12 days. Ninety-nine percent of the patients studied had a fever. About 50% felt fatigued and had a dry cough, with 33% having difficulty breathing and complaining of muscle pain. The study showed that 85% of those with the virus only experience “phase one” of the virus’s course. Phase one encompasses the first seven days of symptoms (see below). Those with more critical cases of COVID-19 went on to suffer more severe symptoms that last for two more weeks, on average. Age is a strong risk factor for severe illness, complications and death The second Wuhan study also said it observed that the average hospital stay was 10 days.  Here is what having COVID-19 looks like day-by-day: Day 1 (the first day symptoms begin): Most of those infected – 88% – will have a fever and feel tired. Many also have muscle pain and a dry cough. Some people, around 10% according to the study from China, experience nausea or have diarrhea in the days just before the fever begins. Day 2-4: The fever persists as does the cough. Day 5: Breathing difficulty begins on day 5. It is especially likely to happen if the person has a preexisting condition or is older. Day 6: Breathing difficulty, cough and fever persist. Some people describe chest tightening or having a feeling that a “band” is around their chest. Day 7: It is on this day that people who have been experiencing persistent chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath and bluish lips or face are admitted to the hospital. People who are suffering less severe symptoms will likely see those symptoms begin to get better. Day 8: According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15% of people with COVID-19 will develop symptoms of ARDs, or acute respiratory distress syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, ARDs “happens when fluid builds up in the tiny, elastic air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs. The fluid keeps your lungs from filling with enough air, which means less oxygen reaches your bloodstream. This deprives your organs of the oxygen they need to function.” Day 10: If breathing difficulties worsen, it is on this day that patients who are in the hospital will tend to enter the intensive care unit. Day 12: In the Wuhan study, fever ended for most people on Day 12. Many still had a cough. Days 13-14: For those who will survive the virus, breathing difficulties are generally ending on these days. Day 18: For those who do not survive the virus, the average number of days from onset of symptoms until death is 18 1/2 days.
  • Nearly 1.5 million people worldwide – including more than 400,000 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 Wednesday, April 8, continue below:      New York has more COVID-19 cases than any country but the US Update 2:15 p.m. EDT April 8: Updated numbers from the New York State Department of Health show that New York now has more cases of COVID-19 than anywhere else in the world except the United States itself. Officials reported a total of 149,316 coronavirus infections in the state Wednesday, up 10,480 from the number of infections reported Tuesday. The new reports topped the number of cases reported in the second-hardest-hit country, Spain, where health officials have reported 146,690 cases as of Wednesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 403,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New York allowing residents to vote by mail in June primary election Update 2:05 p.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced Wednesday that all of his state’s residents will be allowed to vote by mail in the June 23 primary election. Several states were scheduled to hold their primary elections in April. Officials in a majority of those states, including New York, pushed election dates back. On Tuesday, Wisconsin voters headed to polls after the state Supreme Court overruled an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers which would have pushed the election until June. “I’ve seen lines of people on television voting in other states,' Cuomo said Wednesday at a news conference. 'This is totally nonsensical.” In a Twitter post, Cuomo said New York residents “shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their civic duty.” ‘Robust system of testing and monitoring’ needed in COVID-19 fight, Obama says Update 1:55 p.m. EDT April 8: Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. needs to implement a “robust system of testing and monitoring” before officials can ease off social distancing measures enacted nationwide to fight the coronavirus pandemic. NJ governor pushes primary elections from June to July Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey on Wednesday announced the state’s primary election will be pushed back from June 2 to July 7. Murphy said he issued an executive order to move the date of the election due to the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus. “Our democracy cannot be a casualty of (COVID-19),” Murphy said Wednesday in a Twitter post. “We want to ensure that every voter can vote without endangering their health and safety.” Murphy said officials will evaluate the situation later to determine whether in-person voting remains feasible. Murphy also announced more aggressive social distancing measures Wednesday, ordering all customers and employees of businesses that remain open to wear face coverings. New Jersey has the second-most number of coronavirus infections reported in the country with 47,437 illnesses and 1,504 deaths. Florida officials report 709 new coronavirus cases Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 8: Health officials in Florida reported 702 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 15,456, WFTV reported. A vast majority of the cases -- 15,003 -- involve Florida residents, according to the news station. As of Wednesday officials said 1,955 people have been hospitalized. Officials with the Florida Department of Health also reported 13 new coronavirus-related deaths, WFTV reported. Statewide, 309 people have died of COVID-19. Melania Trump thanks medical personnel, front line workers Update 1:25 p.m. EDT April 8: First lady Melania Trump thanked workers on the front line of the coronavirus epidemic in a video posted Wednesday on social media. “On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you,” the first lady said. “It is because of you that the people of America are receiving the care and treatment they need. We stand united with you and we salute your courageous and compassionate efforts. Our prayers are with all who are fighting this invisible enemy, COVID-19.” 3,088 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Jersey Update 1:15 p.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said health officials reported 3,088 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 47,437 in the state. The number is slightly lower than the 3,361 new cases reported Tuesday and the 3,663 new cases reported Monday. Officials also reported 275 new fatal COVID-19 cases Wednesday. Statewide, 1,504 people have died of coronavirus. Geico giving customers $2.5 billion in credits Update 1:10 p.m. EDT April 8: Insurance giant Geico announced Tuesday it will offer approximately $2.5 billion of credits to its 19 million auto and motorcycle policyholders whose policies come up for renewal this year between Tuesday and Oct. 7. Over 400,000 COVID-19 cases reported in the US Update 1 p.m. EDT April 8: Officials nationwide have reported more than 400,000 coronavirus infections in the United States, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The numbers include more than 138,000 cases reported in New York state alone. The number is higher than cases reported nationwide in any countries other than the United States and Spain. Officials have reported nearly 13,000 deaths due to coronavirus in the U.S. ‘Curve is flattening’ but fatal cases will continue to rise in New York, governor says Update 12:50 p.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said coronavirus-related hospitalizations have gone down in the state on the same day officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in a single-day thus far. Cuomo said “rigorous social distancing” has contributed to a slow in coronavirus infections in the state, but he warned that “it is not a time to get complacent.” “That curve is flattening because of what we’re doing,” Cuomo said. However, deaths due to coronavirus in the state rose by 779, representing the highest daily number of deadly cases in the state. “The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away,” Cuomo said. “The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you will come off a ventilator.” Officials have reported 6,268 deaths in New York state due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pennsylvania officials report largest single-day jump in COVID-19 cases Update 12:30 p.m. EDT April 8: Health officials in Pennsylvania on Wednesday reported the highest single-day jump thus far in the number of coronavirus infections statewide, WPXI reported. Officials reported 1,680 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total number of infections to 16,239. The Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 70 more fatal cases, raising the state’s coronavirus death toll to 310. UK officials report 938 new fatal coronavirus cases Update 12:25 p.m. EDT April 8: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 938 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 7,097. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced a total of 60,733 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. The number was 5,491 higher than the number of cases reported nationwide Tuesday. Broadway to remain closed until June Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 8: Broadway shows in New York City will remain suspended until at least June 7, a trade association for the Broadway community announced Wednesday. The decision was made in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and under the direction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, officials said. “Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, said in a statement. “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.” WTO estimates global trade plunge in 2020 due to COVID-19 Update 11:15 a.m. EDT April 8: The World Trade Organization estimates global trade will fall between 13% and 32% this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Geneva-based body, which oversees the rules of trade, said in a report that the drop would be worse than during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. The wide range in its forecast is due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, as it remains uncertain when business will return toward more normal levels. Governments around the world have locked down on business and travel to contain the outbreak, disrupting supply chains. “The unavoidable declines in trade and output will have painful consequences for households and businesses, on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself,' WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said. “These numbers are ugly – there is no getting around that. But a rapid, vigorous rebound is possible.' Maryland governor: Baltimore-Washington corridor ‘an emerging hotspot’ Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland warned Wednesday that 'the Baltimore-Washington corridor has become an emerging hotspot,” after state officials recorded 1,158 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. The newly reported cases bring the total number of coronavirus infections in Maryland to 5,529. Hogan said the numbers were partially due to an increase in the actual number of new infections, influenced by a surge in statewide testing efforts and affected by a lag in reporting. “More than 30% of the new cases reported today are for testing that was completed in March,” Hogan said. Still, he warned, “The virus continues to spread in every jurisdiction.' “I want to once again remind all Marylanders to continue to stay home and stay informed,' he said. 'We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.” Los Angeles requires customers, essential workers wear face coverings Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 8: Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles has ordered that customers to businesses that remain open and all non-medical essential workers wear face coverings beginning Friday to stymie the spread of the coronavirus. The order requires employers to provide workers with face coverings and requires workers to wash the coverings at least once per day, if they’re reusable. It also requires employers to allow workers to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes. The order also gives business owners the right to refuse service to customers who arrive at stores without wearing face coverings. Negotiations to get more emergency stimulus funds to US small businesses ongoing Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 8: A day after President Donald Trump asked Congress for $250 billion more in emergency small business loans to deal with the negative economic impact of the coronavirus, Democratic leaders in Congress said they would agree to that money if the president would also add aid for emergency food assistance, state and local governments and public health needs nationwide. “The heartbreaking acceleration of the coronavirus crisis demands bold, urgent and ongoing action from Congress to protect Americans’ lives and livelihoods,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a joint statement issued Wednesday morning. Georgia governor extends emergency declaration Update 10:15 a.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Wednesday announced the extension of a public health state of emergency as officials work to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The emergency declaration will remain in effect until May 13, WSB-TV reported. “This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to front line medical providers and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities,' Kemp said Wednesday, according to WSB-TV. “We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together.” GM to make 30,000 ventilators under DPA Update 10 a.m. EDT April 8: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced General Motors Co has agreed to produce 30,000 ventilators as part of a $489.4 million deal under the Defense Production Act. Officials said that as part of the contract, GM agreed to deliver the ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile by the end of August. A spokesman for GM told Bloomberg News that production will begin next week. Officials said 6,132 ventilators were expected to be delivered by June 1. The Defense Production Act, which dates back to the Korean War, allows the president to require businesses to support the country in times of need. The act also allows for incentives given to businesses that do step up. Stocks open higher on Wall Street Update 9:45 a.m. EDT April 8: Stocks opened moderately higher on Wall Street following weakness overseas as global trading remains unstable amid deep uncertainty over how bad the economic toll of the coronavirus will be. The tentative climb early Wednesday came a day after a big gain for the S&P 500 vanished suddenly. Investors have been blindly trying to guess how badly the outbreak will hurt corporate profits as travel and businesses shut down across the world. France’s central bank said that country’s economy has entered a recession with a 6% drop in the first three months of the year. Trump continues opposition to mail-in voting over fraud concerns Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 8: With the coronavirus pushing primary elections back in many states, President Donald Trump reiterated his opposition to mail-in voting Wednesday and urged Republicans to fight such proposals. “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting,” the president wrote in a tweet. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” Primary elections scheduled to take place in April have been rescheduled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in every state except Wisconsin. Voters headed to polls in the state Tuesday after the state Supreme Court overruled an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers which would have pushed the election until June. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson responding to coronavirus treatment, spokesman says Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 8: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom is in stable condition Wednesday and responding to treatment of his coronavirus symptoms, according to a spokesman. James Slack said Johnson continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance. Johnson has spent two nights in the ICU of St. Thomas’ Hospital since being admitted Sunday. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later. His spokesman declined to provide further details of Johnson’s treatment, saying Wednesday’s update “was given to us by St. Thomas’ Hospital and it contains all of the information which the PM’s medical team considers to be clinically relevant.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is hospitalized. Social distancing efforts must continue to avoid ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, official says Update 8:45 a.m. EDT April 8: White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx praised Americans for taking social distancing efforts seriously but warned Wednesday that efforts need to continue to avoid the risk of a second wave of COVID-19. “It’s really critical,” Birx said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “If people start going out again and socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early, so we are really encouraging every American to follow the guidelines for these 30 days.” The White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged Americans to avoid social gatherings, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces, among other things, to stymie the spread of the coronavirus. Global coronavirus deaths top 83K, worldwide cases near 1.5 million Update 7:43 a.m. EDT April 8: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 83,149 early Wednesday, 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 1,446,557 people worldwide. Five countries – the United States, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – have now confirmed total infection counts well above China’s 82,783 cases. • The United States has reported 399,929 cases, resulting in 12,911 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 146,690 cases, resulting in 14,555 deaths. • Italy has reported 135,586 infections, resulting in 17,127 deaths. • France has confirmed 110,070 infections, resulting in 10,343 deaths. • Germany has reported 107,663 cases, resulting in 2,016 deaths. • China has recorded 82,809 cases, resulting in 3,337 deaths. • Iran has recorded 67,286 cases, resulting in 4,003 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 55,957 cases, resulting in 6,171 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 34,109 cases, resulting in 725 deaths. • Belgium has confirmed 23,403 cases, resulting in 2,240 deaths. Michigan officials order 4 portable refrigeration units to store bodies as coronavirus deaths climb Update 7:16 a.m. EDT April 8: As coronavirus-related deaths continue to outpace space, officials in Wayne County, Michigan, have ordered at least four portable refrigerated units to boost storage capacity Wayne County Spokesman Bill Nowling told CNN that the county’s morgue can hold about 300 bodies and, if fulfilled, the request will increase capacity about 450. “Based on current projections of the number of expected cases and potential deaths, we think this will be enough,” Nowling told the network, adding, “We monitor daily and will order more portable units as necessary.' According to a tally maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Michigan has confirmed a total of 18,970 coronavirus cases to date, resulting in 845 deaths. Excluding Detroit, Wayne County has recorded at least 3,513 infections, resulting in 180 deaths Tesla plans pay cuts, furloughs amid coronavirus crunch Update 5:22 a.m. EDT April 8: Electric carmaker Tesla announced plans late Monday to cut pay for all of its salaried employees and furlough hourly employees until production resumes May 4, multiple media outlets reported. The pay reductions are slated to remain in place until the end of the second quarter, CNBC reported. The news comes one week after Tesla informed staffing agencies it was halting all contract work indefinitely, resulting in the immediate dismissal of hundreds of temporary workers, CNBC reported. Fauci bobblehead raises $100,000 for American Hospital Association as coronavirus crisis deepens Update 4:54 a.m. EDT April 8: Sales of a bobblehead likeness of Dr. Anthony Fauci have raised more than $100,000 to provide protective masks for healthcare workers, The Washington Post reported. Five dollars from each $25 sale of the infectious disease expert’s bobblehead will fund the American Hospital Association’s 100 Million Mask Challenge. Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and has become the public face of the U.S. response to the mounting novel coronavirus crisis, has also broken a record in the process. Phil Sklar, co-founder of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, said the more than 20,000 pre-orders placed in less than one week, means the polyresin likeness of Fauci will “dethrone” that of Jean Dolores “Sister Jean” Schmidt, whom the Post described as “the court-side superstar and now-100-year-old chaplain of the Loyola University of Chicago men’s basketball team, which powered improbably to the NCAA tournament’s Final Four in 2018.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in stable condition amid coronavirus treatment, junior health minister says Update 4:13 a.m. EDT April 8: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains hospitalized in stable condition following a worsening of his novel coronavirus symptoms, junior health minister Edward Argar told Sky News. “I understand the Prime Minister is in a stable condition. He’s comfortable and in good spirits. He has, in the past, had some oxygen, but he’s not on ventilation,” Argar told the network. On Tuesday, Johnson’s spokesperson told CNN the prime minister is receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without assistance, a day after he was transferred to intensive care. More than 1K Veterans’ Affairs health workers test positive for coronavirus Update 3:50 a.m. EDT April 8: At least 1,000 health care workers who service veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. According to Task and Purpose, a military and veteran-focused digital media company, 1,007 Veterans’ Health Administration employees have contracted the virus and have been placed in isolation. Read more here. California governor brokers deals for 200M masks per month to fight coronavirus Update 3:15 a.m. EDT April 8: Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out plans Tuesday for his state to acquire more than 200 million protective masks per month for health care workers battling the novel coronavirus. Newsom, who discussed the plans while appearing on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” said action needed to be taken at the state level. 'In the past 48 hours, we have secured through a consortium of nonprofits and manufacturers here in the state of California upwards of 200 million masks on a monthly basis that we’re confident we can supply the needs of the state of California and potentially the needs of other western states,” Newsom said, adding, “We inked a number of contracts in the last few days that give me confidence in being able to say that.” Specifically, he told Maddow he expects to receive more than 150 million N95 masks and more than 50 million surgical masks per month. 2nd US coronavirus vaccine trial administers first dose Update 1:40 a.m. EDT April 8: The first dose of a second experimental novel coronavirus vaccine was administered this week to a subject at the University of Pennsylvania. Biotechnology firm Inovio began its Phase 1 clinical trial with the first dose delivered Monday and the trial expected to enroll as many as 40 healthy adult volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, according to a news release.  Dr. Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s principal investigator, said in the release his team anticipates “rapid enrollment” in the early-stage trial, expected to continue through late summer.  “There has been tremendous interest in this vaccine among people who want to do what they can do to help protect the greater public from this pandemic as soon as possible,” Tebas said in the release.  Meanwhile, biotechnology firm Moderna launched its Phase 1 coronavirus vaccine testing in March. US coronavirus deaths hit 12,895, total cases near 400K Published 12:28 a.m. EDT April 8: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 398,000 early Wednesday 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 398,809 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 12,895 deaths. U.S. cases now nearly triple the 141,942 reported in Spain and the 135,586 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 5,489 – or roughly 43 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 1,232 in New Jersey and 845 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 139,876 confirmed cases – more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 44,416 and Michigan with 18,970. Six other states have now confirmed at least 13,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 17,585, including 450 deaths • Louisiana: 16,284, including 582 deaths • Massachusetts: 15,202, including 356 deaths • Florida: 13,629, including 250 deaths • Pennsylvania: 14,956, including 296 deaths • Illinois: 13,553, including 380 deaths Meanwhile, Texas and Georgia each has confirmed at least 9,000 novel coronavirus infections, followed closely by Washington state with 8,696 cases and Connecticut with 7,781 cases; Indiana and Colorado each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases; Ohio, Maryland and Tennessee each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Arizona, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Alabama and Nevada 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 Baltimore police sergeant is under investigation after video surfaced of him allegedly coughing in the direction of residents standing outside a public housing complex. Police officials on Tuesday announced an internal investigation into the incident. “After watching the full video, in its entirety, it is not only disturbing, but incomprehensible, especially considering the high-level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding COVID-19,” Baltimore police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement to multiple media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun. “Members are always expected to be sensitive and professional to the community, but what we saw in the video is alarming because this pandemic is affecting lives not only nationally, worldwide, but right here in our own police department.” Harrison said Tuesday that 12 members of the police department had tested positive for COVID-19. Another 67 officers were awaiting test results, and since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 300 officers have placed under quarantine. The force still had 150 officers quarantined as of Tuesday’s news conference. The department’s Southwest District, where three of the positive officers are assigned, was also shuttered for several days as the building and patrol cars were sanitized. It has since reopened. Watch Baltimore city and police officials give an update on COVID-19 in the community below.  In the profanity-laced video shared Tuesday on social media, the woman recording the footage with a cellphone is heard calling out to the unnamed officer as she and other residents stand outside the Perkins Homes housing complex. “Hey, Officer Friendly, with the cherry cheeks,” the woman says as he approaches her on the sidewalk, according to the video. The officer doesn’t respond, but as he walks by the woman, he puts his hand on his chest and starts coughing. “Oh, I ain’t worried about that (expletive). Y’all get that (expletive). Black people don’t,” the woman tells the officer in the video. “You can cough your white (expletive) back where you live at.” Watch the entire video below. Warning: The footage contains explicit language. She appears to be repeating an early myth of the pandemic, which has since been debunked by health officials, that claimed black people’s skin is resistant to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Data is instead showing that black communities across the country are being disproportionately affected by the illness. According to ProPublica, black residents make up 26% of the population in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Of the 945 COVID-19 cases in Milwaukee County as of Friday morning, black residents made up nearly half. Eighty-one percent of the 27 people who had died at that point were black. That pattern is being repeated in cities across the nation, ProPublica reported. As the Baltimore officer continues to walk by the residents of the housing complex in the video, he can be heard coughing repeatedly. He passes within a couple of feet of the residents, who appear on the video to be spaced apart on the sidewalk. Health officials have urged people to remain at least 6 feet apart from one another at all times to help stem the spread of the virus. The public housing residents recoil from the coughing in the video and shout at the officer as he leaves. “The (expletive) wrong with him?” the woman recording the exchange is heard shouting. “Tell him (expletive) don’t get that (expletive).” She laughs and tells the officer he needs an extra layer of skin. Despite the laughter, her voice sounds angry. “Come here coughing like that (expletive) cute,” she says in the video. “I should call the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on his (expletive) and let them know he just did some dirty (expletive) like that.” Harrison said at Tuesday’s COVID-19 update that the department last week implemented daily health checks for officers, including mandatory temperature checks twice a day. Officers are also ordered to wear their provided N95 masks when interacting with the public or responding to calls for service. “This includes foot patrols and business checks,” Harrison said. The officer in the video was not wearing a mask. Brandon Scott, president of the Baltimore City Council, denounced the officer’s actions on Twitter, where he wrote Tuesday that he immediately forwarded the video to Harrison upon being made aware of it. “COVID-19 is not a joke and this behavior is beyond unacceptable,” Scott tweeted. “When you're in public service, it's your duty to treat everyone with respect, especially when we are dealing with both a public health pandemic and a gun violence epidemic. This is not behavior that we want our police officers, or any of our public servants, to model to residents.” The department’s Public Integrity Bureau is investigating the incident, according to a statement obtained by Fox Baltimore. Investigators are reviewing the woman’s footage, as well as the officer’s body-worn camera footage. “A complete investigation will be conducted, and the department hopes that all of its members and the public will continue to work together with respect as we maneuver forward during this challenging time,” the statement said.