COVID-19

US Covid-19 cases top 900,000, deaths touch 52,000

WASHINGTON: More than 900,000 people were infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as of Saturday in the United States, with the death toll exceeding 52,000, while a new study indicated that the virus was likely to be spreading in multiple US cities “far earlier” than Americans knew.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 905,364 as of 10.30 a.m. (1430 GMT), and a total of 52,042 deaths related to the disease were recorded, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, Xinhua news agency reported.

New York remains the hardest-hit state, with 271,590 cases and 21,411 deaths. New Jersey follows, with 102,196 cases and 5,683 deaths. Other states with over 40,000 cases include Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.
Worldwide, more than 200,000 people died of the disease as of Saturday, among over 2.8 million cases, showed the CSSE data.
The United States suffered the most fatalities. Italy followed with 26,384 deaths. Spain reported 22,902 deaths, France and Britain also reported over 20,000 deaths.
The US states and federal government are trying very hard to balance the public health risk posed by the virus with the severe cost of month-odd shutting down of the country’s economy.
The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that the unemployment rate around the country, which was near a 50-year low before the coronavirus struck, will surge to 16 per cent by September as the economy withers under the impact of the outbreak.

More than 26 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits since March.
White House unveiled on April 16 three-phase guidelines for reopening the US economy, putting the onus on governors of making decisions about their states’ economies.
Over a dozen states, including Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Colorado and Iowa, are moving toward restarting their economies this weekend with some restrictions.

Many other states remain hesitant to take such steps without more robust testing capacity. New York, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan have already extended their stay-at-home orders.
Several states have announced plans to coordinate their response with neighbours. California is moving forward in coordination with Washington and Oregon while governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island announced plans to form a joint task force.
A CBS News poll published Thursday said that 70 per cent of respondents believed the country’s top priority should be trying to “slow the spread of coronavirus by keeping people home and social distancing, even if the economy is hurt in the short term.”
The virus was likely to be spreading in multiple US cities “far earlier” than Americans knew, according to a new research.
“Even in early February — while the world focused on China — the virus was not only likely to be spreading in multiple American cities, but also seeding blooms of infection elsewhere in the United States, the researchers found,” said a report by The New York Times on Thursday.
In the five major US cities — New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, as of March 1, there were only 23 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
However, according to a model of the spread of the disease by researchers at Northeastern University, “there could have actually been about 28,000 infections in those cities by then,” the report said.
The virus spread on the West Coast of the United States weeks earlier than initially believed, according to new information released by Santa Clara county, California on Tuesday.
Patricia Dowd, a 57-year-old San Jose woman, died at home on February 6.
Jeffrey V. Smith, Santa Clara county executive, told Xinhua in an email interview that “so far, this is the earliest death in the United States.”
Dowd and another 69-year-old man who died at home on Feb. 17 had no “significant travel history,” and they presumably caught the virus through community spread, said the county’s public health officer Dr. Sara Cody.
“These patients apparently contracted the illness from community spread. This suggests that the virus was circulating in the Bay Area in January at least, probably earlier,” Smith told Xinhua.
Previously, the first known US death from the virus was on February 29 in Kirkland in Washington state.

Millions of US workers at Covid-19 risk on job: Study

WASHINGTON: Researchers from the University of Washington have estimated that 14.4 million workers face exposure to COVID-19 infection once a week and 26.7 million at least once a month at the workplace.
Tens of millions of employees in the across the country are thought to be exposed to the disease at work at least once a week, revealed the study

Using federal employment data, the researchers determined 10 per cent (14,425,070) of US workers are employed in occupations where exposure to disease or infection happens at least weekly, based on employee and employer self-report. According to the study, 18.4 per cent (26,669,810) of US workers are employed in occupations where exposure to disease or infection happens at least monthly, based on employee and employer self-report. While healthcare occupations represent the bulk of workers exposed to infection and disease, other occupations that frequently interface with the public and provide essential services are also at increased risk of exposure, the researchers said.

Those include police officers, firefighters, childcare workers, and personal care aides. Some workers who are in higher-paying and more secure jobs, often salaried, can work from home or afford more time away from work, but many don’t have these same options, such as workers who participate in the gig economy or are independent contractors and are typically not considered employees. These workers don’t benefit from employee protective policies, such as sick leave, putting them at increased risk of having to work when they or a loved one is sick, despite public health guidance. Even if a worker does have paid sick leave, and knows how to access it, a variety of other real and perceived pressures — such as an economy that rewards people who are working hard at all times, or pressure to perform work that no one else can perform, encourages workers to come to work sick, a phenomena researchers term “presenteeism.” “Estimating the burden of US workers exposed to infection or disease is a key factor in containing the risk of COVID-19 infection,” said Baker.

This latest research comes as the country currently accounts for the highest number of coronavirus cases, as well as deaths in the world. As of Friday morning, the cases increased to 1,069,424, with 63,006 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University. New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, reported over 300,000 COVID-19 cases by Thursday, with over 160,000 in New York City.

 

Trump: U.S. will terminate relationship with the World Health Organization in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

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President Trump said Friday the U.S. would halt its funding of the World Health Organization and pull out of the agency, accusing it of protecting China as the coronavirus pandemic took off. The move has alarmed health experts, who say the decision will undermine efforts to improve the health of people around the world.

In an address in the Rose Garden, Trump said the WHO had not made reforms that he said would have helped the global health agency stop the coronavirus from spreading around the world.

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said. “The world needs answers from China on the virus.”

It’s not immediately clear whether the president can fully withdraw U.S. funding for the WHO without an act of Congress, which typically controls all federal government spending. Democratic lawmakers have argued that doing so would be illegal, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened last month that such a move would be “swiftly challenged.”

The United States has provided roughly 15% of the WHO’s total funding over its current two-year budget period. A WHO spokesperson declined to comment Friday.

Trump’s announcement came the same day that the U.S. mission in Geneva met with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, about the country’s demands for WHO improvements. A source familiar with the meeting described it as constructive.

Some congressional Republicans have echoed Trump’s attacks on the agency, but in a statement Friday, Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chair of the Senate’s health committee, said he disagreed with Trump.

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” said Alexander (R-Tenn.). “Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

Lawrence Gostin, the faculty director at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, called Trump’s decision “a dangerous move.”

“It’s making an earth-shattering decision in the middle of the greatest health crisis we’ve experienced literally out of pique and whim, without any deliberative process,” Gostin said.

The WHO has repeatedly said it was committed to a review of its response, but after the pandemic had ebbed. Last month, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said the “postmortem” on the pandemic should wait until the emergency was over.

But as the Trump administration’s response to pandemic has come under greater scrutiny, with testing problems and a lack of coordination in deploying necessary supplies, Trump has sought to cast further blame on China and the WHO for failing to snuff out the spread when the virus was centered in China. During his remarks, Trump alleged, without evidence, that China pressured WHO to mislead the world about the virus.

“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” Trump said. “China’s coverup of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives, and over a million lives worldwide.” (That last claim is not true; globally, there have been about 360,000 confirmed deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.)

Trump’s phrasing highlights the buildup of China-U.S. tensions amid the pandemic. After a Chinese government spokesman suggested, without evidence, that the U.S. Army first brought the novel coronavirus to Hubei province, Trump retaliated by using the terms “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese virus” — words widely condemned as racist, and which coincided with a rash of racist incidents targeting Asian Americans.

Experts say that if the U.S. leaves the WHO, the influence of China will only grow.

“Global health was our bipartisan moral leadership that had been preserved through this administration,” said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president of the Center for Global Development. “And right now … that falls apart. It’s really to me tragic that this one space that was really about our moral leadership and our convictions and soft power … that we’re now going to let that go in the midst of a pandemic.”

Glassman said there are thousands of U.S. employees at the WHO and its regional body for the Americas, and that the U.S. is home to 82 WHO collaborating centers.

When Trump earlier this month threatened to yank U.S. funding in a letter, Tedros would only say during a media briefing that the agency was reviewing it. But he and other officials stressed that the agency had a small budget — about $2.3 billion every year — relative to the impact the agency had and what it was expected to do.

U.S. Now Leads World in Number of COVID-19 Deaths

In better news, researchers on Friday reported that the experimental drug remdesivir helped a majority of critically ill COVID-19 patients in a small trial.

There were 20,614 confirmed deaths in the United States as of Sunday morning, The New York Times reported, while Italy has 19,468 confirmed deaths. Until Saturday, Italy had had more lives lost to the new coronavirus than any other country.

But there was one glimmer of hope for better treatment. On Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine published a small study involving the “compassionate use” of the antiviral remdesivir. The medicine has been viewed by global health experts as the best early shot for treating the disease, the Washington Post reported.

More than two-thirds of 53 severely ill patients showed improvement in oxygen support, the researchers said. Seventeen of 30 patients who were on ventilators were able to be taken off the life-support machines, the study showed.

“We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” study author Dr. Jonathan Grein, hospital epidemiology director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told the Post.

While 68% of the patients showed improvement in the level of oxygen support they needed, 13% of those in the study died, but that is lower than the mortality rates of 17% to 78% in China among severely ill patients, the authors wrote.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, called the results “encouraging,” while cautioning that they needed to be kept in perspective, the Post reported.

The good news was tempered by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, saying Friday that he hopes for “a real degree of normality” only by November.

Still, reports have surfaced that the Trump administration is pushing to re-open much of the country in May.

White House pushing for relaxation of social distancing in May

According to the Post, President Donald Trump has asked for a plan to resume business activity by May 1. This strategy concerns health experts, who fear a possible resurgence of coronavirus if life returns to normal before the virus is truly beaten, the newspaper said.

Right now, federal recommendations to avoid social gatherings and work from home expire at the end of April.

During a media briefing on Thursday, Trump said the United States was at the “top of the hill” and added, “Hopefully, we’re going to be opening up — you could call it opening — very, very, very, very soon, I hope.”

The White House cannot unilaterally reopen the country, however. Though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued national social distancing guidelines, state officials are the ones who enforce those guidelines. And state directives across the country have varied widely in timing and severity.

During the Thursday media briefing, Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said some places might reopen sooner than others, and that places like hard-hit New York shouldn’t loosen social distancing restrictions until there was a “very steep decline” in infections.

“It’s not going to be one-size-fits-all,” he added.

Health experts said that ending the shutdown prematurely would be disastrous because the restrictions have hardly had time to work, and the country does not yet have the mass testing, large-scale contact tracing and targeted quarantines that have been used in other countries to suppress the virus, the Post reported.

Economy is tanking

Still, Trump plans to announce the creation of a second, smaller coronavirus task force next week that will be aimed at countering the economic fallout from the virus, people familiar with the plans told the Post.

The economy is in sore need of stimulation: On Thursday, Americans faced more bleak news on unemployment numbers.

U.S. Labor Department statistics released Thursday morning showed that 6.6 million more workers joined the jobless rolls in the past week, the Associated Press reported. That comes on top of 10 million jobless claims that were filed in the previous two weeks.

It’s as if “the economy as a whole has fallen into some sudden black hole,” Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, told the wire service.

Meanwhile, a new analysis found that COVID-19 is infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate. A Post review of early data from across the country shows that counties that are mostly black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

Trump acknowledged the racial disparity during a coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday.

“We are doing everything in our power to address this challenge, and it’s a tremendous challenge,” Trump said. “It’s terrible.”

“Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people?” Trump said. “It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t like it, and we are going to have statistics over the next probably two to three days.”

Face coverings in public

If Americans do leave their homes this week, new federal guidance now urges everyone to wear face coverings in public to curb the spread of COVID-19.

These face coverings can be non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas and they can be used while out at everyday shopping spots such as the grocery store, pharmacy or gas station, the AP reported. Medical-grade masks would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.

Any additional COVID-19 prevention measures are welcome, as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide neared 1.8 million.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the United States topped 20,000 on Sunday and it continued to outpace other nations with over 530,000 confirmed infections, the Times reported.

New York remains the hardest hit area of the country. More than 8,600 people have died in New York as of Sunday, according to the Times. But other measures of the pandemic have been slowing.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that hospitalizations and intensive-care admissions in the state have fallen, suggesting progress. But he stressed that he did not know when New Yorkers would be able to begin a return to normal life, the Post reported.

“We’re not going to go from red to green; we’re going to go from red to yellow,” Cuomo said.

And New York City emergency responders report that they are inundated with 911 calls, the Times reported.

The fire department said it is seeing more than 300 cardiac arrest calls per day, with well over 200 of those patients dying, the newspaper said. A year ago, the department averaged 64 calls for cardiac arrest per day.

“The worst thing is taking a call and hearing somebody screaming because their loved one has stopped breathing or they’re in distress and they don’t know what to do,” said dispatcher Virginia Creary, who is also an EMT. “You just feel utterly helpless.”

Economic help slow in coming

As the U.S. economy continues to falter, Americans have struggled to find out if they can receive benefits from a $2 trillion stimulus package that was passed into law in March. The financial relief is just starting to be felt as state and federal agencies struggle to process millions of aid applications from small businesses and the newly jobless, the Post reported.

The legislation should send $1,200 to millions of Americans, including those earning up to $75,000, along with $500 per child. It will also give an additional 13 weeks in unemployment aid and a four-month enhancement of jobless benefits, the Times reported.

Hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic will also get $100 billion, the Times reported.

The help comes not a moment too soon, as roughly 90% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, the AP reported.

Cases are spiking elsewhere, particularly in the South: Louisiana, Florida and Georgia are facing alarming increases, with over 51,000 cases and at least 1,683 deaths reported in those three states alone, the Times reported Sunday.

Some health officials are warning that parts of Michigan, Colorado and Illinois could be the next epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported. By Sunday, Michigan had almost 24,000 cases and 1,391 deaths, the Times reported.

As different nations wonder what is in store for their citizens in the coming months, one glimmer of hope has emerged:

All restrictions in the Chinese city of Wuhan — the first to go into lockdown back in January — were lifted as the city’s 11 million residents returned to their jobs and schools.

The good news in China stood in sharp relief to what is unfolding in Europe.

Global crisis

On Sunday, Spain reported almost 17,000 deaths, despite signs the infection rate is slowing, a Johns Hopkins tally showed. Deaths in Italy remain high, although numbers have begun to level off.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a state of emergency in seven prefectures that include the country’s largest population centers as cases there are on the rise, the Times reported. Abe also announced an economic stimulus package worth nearly $1 trillion.

In the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after been treated for more than a week for persistent COVID-19 symptoms. According to the Times he will recover at Chequers, the British prime minister’s country estate.

In the meantime, the public lives of Americans have come to a halt, as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted officials across the country to close, cancel or postpone any event or activity that might foster the spread of COVID-19.

New York, New Jersey and California have been hard hit by coronavirus cases in the United States. By Sunday, New York had over 180,000 cases, New Jersey had more than 58,000 and California’s case count was over 22,000, according to the Times.

However, California earlier this week recorded its first drop in COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in intensive care units, the Times reported.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday he was encouraged by the drop, but isn’t drawing any hard conclusions from one day of data.

“One data point is not a trend,” Newsom warned. “One data point is not a headline, so I caution anybody to read too much into that one point of data, but nonetheless it is encouraging.”

Worldwide, the number of reported infections neared 1.8 million on Sunday, with over 110,000 deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.

 

Trump’s grievances with little known group put their attacks in the spotlight

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Republican strategist Jennifer Horn was up at 1 o’clock Tuesday morning writing an op-ed when she saw it: An angry tweet mentioning her by name from the President of the United States.

Donald Trump had name-checked Horn, alongside other advisers to the anti-Trump Republican group the Lincoln Project, in a late-night rant against the organization’s latest ad criticizing the President for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among Trump’s targets on Twitter were George Conway, the outspoken husband of White House aide Kellyanne Conway, and several veterans of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The ad, which was released on Monday and ran in limited buys on Fox News in the DC market, is titled “Mourning in America” and claims the country is “weaker and sicker and poorer” under Trump’s leadership. The 60-second spot ran during a midnight-hour re-airing of Tucker Carlson’s Monday show, which Horn figures is where the President saw it. In his tweets posted at 12:46 am, Trump called the Lincoln Project’s founders “LOSERS” and Republicans in name only.
The President’s reaction was the biggest splash yet for the Lincoln Project, a relatively small super PAC run by Republican or ex-Republican political professionals who oppose the President. Their goal is for Trump to lose reelection, and last month the group ran an ad endorsing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. But getting under Trump’s skin is an added benefit for the group.
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“The idea is to get as big of an audience as possible, and there’s no question that when the President tweets you, your audience increases exponentially,” Horn told CNN on Tuesday.
Beyond Conway and Horn, others associated with the group include Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Reed Galen — all veterans of the 2008 campaign of John McCain, with whom Trump feuded until the Arizona senator’s death in 2018. Others on the advisory board are campaign operatives Rick Wilson, Ron Steslow and Mike Madrid.
Each of the Lincoln Project principles aligned themselves with the “NeverTrump” movement in the 2016 election and have been outspoken critics of Trump and the Republican Party ever since. Weaver ran then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 bid for the GOP nomination, while Wilson advised anti-Trump independent candidate Evan McMullin.
Created late last year, the Lincoln Project has raised just over $2.5 million through the end of March, spending about $1.2 million of that through the same period. According to FEC filings the bulk of that — nearly $780,000 — has gone to a media-consulting company owned by Galen called Summit Strategic Communications, which produces the Lincoln Project’s ads and provides other services. In a subsequent tweet, Trump accused the group of “pocketing” the money they’ve raised from donors
Officials at the Lincoln Project dismissed the criticism.
“No small amount of irony that a man uses his own donors’ money to enrich himself and his family accuses others of the same. Deflection is his stock and trade,” Galen said.
According to data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, the Lincoln Project has purchased a total of $115,000 in TV ad time. Most of that has been in the Washington, DC, market, including $46,000 for the current ad. Weaver told CNN they have intentionally purchased time during the Fox News programs Trump prefers, including Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s.
There have been smaller buys in swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and Weaver says there are plans to run the “Mourning in America” spot in states like those soon. The group says it will also be targeting top Republican Senate candidates in upcoming ads.
The most recent ad not only invokes Ronald Reagan’s sunny “Morning in America” slogan from his 1984 reelection campaign but closes with a shot of the Lincoln Memorial — the site of Trump’s Fox News town hall on Sunday. During that event, Trump said he’s faced a more difficult time from the media than even Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.
Weaver says the inclusion of the memorial in the ad so soon after Trump’s appearance there was a “fortuitous” coincidence.
“That was the luck of the political gods,” Weaver said.
The Trump campaign would not comment directly on the President’s tweets but accused the group of “politicizing a pandemic.”
“This is a group of disgruntled GOP consultants who are no longer Republicans and are not relevant in this election,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director. “The President is out front leading the nation in the battle against the Coronavirus and these baseless attacks do not resonate with the American people.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Trump defended his record and said the organization should be rebranded the “Losers Project.”
“Every one of them, I either defeated or they lost by themselves. But it’s a group of major losers. They’re Republican losers,” he said before departing Washington for Arizona.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized for Gallbladder Treatment

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The Supreme Court said she expected to participate in Wednesday’s oral arguments by telephone from the hospital.

WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized for treatment of a gallbladder condition, the Supreme Court announced on Tuesday. She had participated in oral arguments held by conference call on Tuesday morning, and the court said she planned to take part in Wednesday’s arguments by telephone from the hospital.

The court said Justice Ginsburg was treated for acute cholecystitis, a benign gallbladder condition, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “Following oral arguments on Monday,” a statement from the court said, “the justice underwent outpatient tests at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., that confirmed she was suffering from a gallstone that had migrated to her cystic duct, blocking it and causing an infection.”

The treatment did not involve surgery, the statement said without elaboration. Gallstones can sometimes be removed through a scope passed down the digestive tract. If the blockage has caused an infection, it may be treated with antibiotics.

Gallstones are more common in women than in men, and are more likely to form in people over 40. The most common type are made mostly of cholesterol.

When a stone blocks a duct, it causes pain and sometimes nausea and vomiting. If there is an infection, there may be fever.

The statement said Justice Ginsburg was resting comfortably and “expects to stay in the hospital for a day or two.”

Justice Ginsburg, 87, has had a series of recent health scares. Last summer, she underwent three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court said in a statement at the time.

That was Justice Ginsburg’s fourth brush with cancer, following surgery in 2018 to remove two malignant nodules from her left lung, surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2009 and treatment for colon cancer in 1999.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Justice Ginsburg had maintained a remarkably busy schedule, often making public appearances at least twice a week.

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The court stopped hearing arguments in its courtroom in early March in light of health concerns, postponing arguments in about 20 cases. The court started hearing two weeks of arguments by conference call on Monday, providing the public with live audio for the first time. At arguments on Monday and Tuesday, Justice Ginsburg’s questions were characteristically crisp and cogent.

Justice Ginsburg is the senior member of the court’s four-member liberal wing. She has repeatedly vowed to stay on the court as long as her health holds and she stays mentally sharp.

President Trump has appointed two members of the Supreme Court, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The last president to appoint more than two justices in his first term was Richard M. Nixon, who put four on the court from 1969 to 1972. Those appointments spelled the end of the liberal court that had been led by Chief Justice Earl Warren and created a conservative majority that remains to this day.

The current court is closely divided, with five Republican appointees and four Democratic ones. A third Trump appointee would not only make the balance more lopsided but would also almost certainly move the court’s ideological center to the right.

Justice Ginsburg was named to the court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. She was the first Democratic appointee since 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall.

During the Obama administration, some liberals urged Justice Ginsburg to step down so that President Barack Obama could name her successor. She rejected the advice.

“I think it’s going to be another Democratic president,” Justice Ginsburg told The Washington Post in 2013. “The Democrats do fine in presidential elections; their problem is they can’t get out the vote in the midterm elections.”

Mr. Trump, whose election proved her wrong, has been critical of Justice Ginsburg, saying in 2016 that “her mind is shot” and suggesting that she resign. His sharp words came after Justice Ginsburg criticized Mr. Trump in a series of interviews. She later said she had made a mistake in publicly commenting on a candidate and promised to be more “circumspect” in the future.

More recently, he urged Justices Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor to recuse themselves in all cases involving him.

Disney Stock Downgraded to “Sell” Over Coronavirus Impact

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“Disney has gone from being on top of the world a la Lion King (devouring Fox), to feeling like Eeyore stuck in the middle of a perfect storm,” Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield wrote

 

Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield on Tuesday downgraded Walt Disney’s stock as he argued there’s too little future earnings visibility to measure the COVID-19 impact on the studio’s theme parks, theatrical releases and other out-of-home businesses.

“Disney is built on shared group experiences. Until there is global comfort health-wise with that behavior again, Disney’s earnings are fundamentally impaired,” Greenfield wrote in a report. He added Disney’s share price is overvalued as he downgraded the studio’s stock to “sell,” with an $85 target.

Disney is set to release its latest financial results after the market close on Tuesday.

Greenfield said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing will force Disney to dramatically cut strategic investments and operating costs just as investors are betting the studio can successfully pivot to the streaming age with Disney+.

“Disney has gone from being on top of the world a la Lion King (devouring Fox), to feeling like Eeyore stuck in the middle of a perfect storm with no end in sight, an inexperienced CEO and furloughing tens of thousands of employees to reduce costs and sustain a dividend that should have been cut immediately,” the analyst argued.

Disney recently named Bob Chapek as its next CEO, succeeding Bob Iger, who assumed the role of executive chairman but has returned in an enlarged management role at the studio as it navigates the coronavirus pandemic.

Greenfield warned Disney reopening its parks too early risks low attendance with high costs as furloughed workers are brought back, and releasing theatrical tentpoles before moviegoers are comfortable returning to theaters risks deep box office losses. Other risk factors for Disney include a deepening TV ad recession.

The Lightshed Partners researcher echoes other analysts who have forecast the studio’s theme park division will take two or more years to return to normal attendance in the coronavirus pandemic era.

On the direct-to-consumer front, Greenfield touted Disney+ for surpassing 50 million subscribers, but added that “even if Disney+ achieves 100 million subscribers in 2022, we expect revenue to be a fraction of Netflix. For now, Disney+ is really more of the SVOD outlet for Disney feature films (like HBO or Showtime) rather than the focal point of the entire company’s content creation.”

Greenfield said investors would be wrong to look past the COVID-19 impact on Disney to more normalized earnings down the road. “We believe that would be a mistake, as there is no clarity on when vacation travel normalizes, nor when movie theater attendance normalizes, enabling a Disney movie to generate $1-$2 billion of box office,” he argued.

Greenfield forecast Disney earnings will fall in 2021, before reaching a “new normal” in 2022 and beyond. “If our estimates are even close to realistic, we cannot see Disney’s stock price holding in at current levels,” he added.

National Nurses Week 2020: Free food deals

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National Nurses Week begins Wednesday, May 6 and what better way to celebrate than with free food deals?

 

Each year, restaurants around the country offer nurses of all kinds free or discounted meals and treats through the end of Nurses Week on May 12. Now amid the coronavirus pandemic, nurses are working even harder to provide care.

Below are some of the eateries providing sweet treats, meals or a cup of joe to hardworking nurses in Georgia.

Chipotle is providing free burritos to health care workers beginning on Nurses Day May 6 following their 4HEROS campaign. The burritos are provided if workers signup here for a chance to receive them.

Cinnabon traditionally offers a free cinnamon roll at participating bakeries to nurses. The company partners with the DAISY Foundation, which recognizes “the exceptional work that nurses do for patients and families every day.”

Dunkin’ is giving health care workers a free doughnut and medium hot or iced coffee on National Nurses Day, Wednesday, May 6.

Home Chef is offering an exclusive discount to nurses, doctors, hospital employees, first responders and teachers who verify with ID.me at checkout.

Krispy Kreme is providing a dozen of their Original Glazed doughnuts every Monday through National Nurses Week. The treats can be picked up in the drive-thru by showing an employer badge.

Little Caesar’s Pizza has donated one million pizzas to health care workers and first responders throughout the country. Though the #PieItForward campaign customers can also donate pizza to local hospitals, police and fire departments when checking out. By doing so, customers have already donated an additional 125,000 pizzas.

McDonald’s began offering Thank You meals in April to first responders and medical professionals who show proof of employment. Nurses are included in this and they can choose from breakfast, lunch or dinner options.

Mrs. Fields is offering 25% off the Heroes Collection so people can thank front line workers — including nurses. A bundle can be sent to doctors’ offices or local hospitals.

Outback Steakhouse offers 10% off all day, every day to nurses, doctors and other medical staff as well as military veterans and first responders. A valid medical, state or federal service ID is required.

Snickers is giving essential workers an e-gift card for a free Snickers bar that can be redeemed at Walmart. For every bar sent, Snickers will also donate to first responders through Operation Gratitude.

Starbucks is offering frontline health care workers and first responders a free tall brewed coffee — hot or iced — through the end of May.

Subway is partnering with Postmates to deliver subs to nurses and health care workers. For every $15 Subway order placed on Postmates, the sandwich and salad restaurant will donate a 6-inch sub to medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic through May 10.

 

3 plans in motion to slowly reopen Texas starting today

Today could mean the start of big changes to your lifestyle. Here’s what you can expect this week.

Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce phase one of his plan to reopen Texas. He will be addressing what happens when the statewide ‘stay-at-home’ order expires on Thursday, April 30.

TIMELINE: Here are important dates for Texas to reopen

Plus, additional openings and more restrictions are scheduled to be loosened by Abbott.

The governor’s announcement will be at 2:30 p.m. ABC13 will stream it, and you can watch it in the video player above.

Meanwhile, in Harris County, a mandatory mask order will go into effect.

Under the order, residents 10 years old and older will be required to wear a covering. The order will last for 30 days. Coverings can be a mask, scarf, bandanna or handkerchief.

“We have to use every tool in the toolbox,” said Hidalgo. “If we get complacent, people will die. Those are the stakes.”

Hidalgo said the mask order will be enforced by a $1,000 fine.

Finally, in Galveston, public beaches are reopening with restrictions.

The Galveston City Council voted last week to reopen beaches for three hours each morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for pedestrian exercise only. Beaches will remain closed during all other hours.

Today’s Country-By-Country Coronavirus Stats: Good News For The US But Grim Numbers For The UK And Russia

Here is the grid for the most-affected countries

 

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