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Coronavirus updates: U.S. hospitals forced to cut staff as COVID-19 deaths mount

  Updated 30m ago

New York raises maximum fine for violating social distancing rules

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the maximum fine for violating social distancing rules from $500 to $1,000.  "It's not about your life, you don't have the right to risk someone else's life," the governor said.

Cuomo said that "anecdotal evidence" suggests people are violating the social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus.

"It's not really about the fine - nobody wants the money - we want the compliance. It's not about your life, you don't have the right to risk someone else's life," Cuomo said, "and you don't have the right, frankly, to take health care staff and people who are literally putting their lives on the line to be cavalier or reckless with them." 

Governor Cuomo: "Now is not the time" to ease up on social distancing for coronavirus
  57m ago

Cuomo says "possible flattening of the curve" in New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a news conference Monday said that deaths in his state have been "effectively flat for two days," which suggests a "possible flattening of the curve."

As of Monday, 4,758 people have died, which is up from 4,159 deaths reported Sunday.

"While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases we've seen. New York is far and away the most impacted state," Cuomo said. 

The governor said the total number of hospitalizations, the daily intubations and ICU admissions are down in the state. "Social distancing is working, so we have to make sure social distancing continues," he added.

 

"Jaws" actress Lee Fierro dies at 91 of COVID-19 complications

Lee Fierro, who died Sunday in Ohio from complications of COVID-19 at age 91, was a stage actress who had only a handful of film credits, but her first was a scene-stealer: Mrs. Kintner, mother of a boy who is killed by a shark, in Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster "Jaws." 

With a steely fire, she confronts Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), whom she blames for her son's death, with a slap across the face. She repeated her role in the 1987 sequel "Jaws: The Revenge."

Fierro worked with the local theatrical company, Island Theatre Workshop, in her hometown of Martha's Vineyard (where "Jaws" was filmed).  She appeared in productions and instructed hundreds of young people for 25 years as the Workshop's artistic director.

lee-fierro-in-jaws-universal-pictures.jpg
Lee Fierro appears in "Jaws" as a mother whose son was killed by a shark. Universal Pictures

"She was my teacher and mentor," Kevin Ryan, the group's current artistic director and board president, told the Martha's Vineyard Times. "She was fiercely dedicated to the mission of teaching. She, no matter what it was, would stay at it and get the job done."

 

Louisiana newborn girl reportedly dies with COVID-19 day after she was born

CBS News affiliate WAFB says a newborn girl has died with the coronavirus disease COVID-19 just a day after she was born in Louisiana.

According to WAFB, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark confirmed the little girl had died on Monday, about five days after her mother was admitted to a hospital. 

It was not immediately clear if the mother was also diagnosed with COVID-19, but mothers have previously transferred the disease to their newborns.

Clarke was expected to provide further details of the case later Monday in a news conference.

 

Iran's Health Ministry warns regime plan to ease restrictions will bring new "jump" in virus cases

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting Sunday that he was ordering some of the nation's shut-down businesses to reopen from April 11.

Rouhani said Iran's "enemies want our economy to stop under the excuse of coronavirus spread."

Iran's Health Ministry, however, has warned that reopening businesses so soon could lead to 30% more deaths from the virus, and further burden the country's health care system, which is already under enormous pressure.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting in Tehran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2020. OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL WEBSITE

Contradicting Rouhani's comments, Deputy Health Minister Kiyanush Jahanpur said Monday that, "in spite of some people's assumption, the situation in the country is not ordinary, and if we don't take precautions we will face a new jump in the number of infected people all around the country."

Seyed Bathaei

 

Brooklyn hospital treating coronavirus patients is "like something out of the Twilight Zone"

At the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, doctors treating coronavirus patients say it's not just older people who are in critical condition, and nurses say they still don't have proper protective gear. As of April 2, 27 COVID-19 patients had died at the hospital.

"A lot of our patients are presenting with severe respiratory distress, and it's very acute. They were fine and they had some cough and then they weren't fine," Dr. Joshua Rosenberg, a critical care doctor who also specializes in infectious diseases, told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, who was invited into the hospital.

One man in his early 50s "really didn't have much underlying conditions," but "has developed severe respiratory failure, as well as kidney damage from the virus," Rosenberg said. He said the man "is relatively young."

Describing the situation, one nurse said it was "like something out of the Twilight Zone."  

Inside NYC hospital treating coronavirus patients
 

Cop kills Filipino man after President Duterte orders strict enforcement of lockdown orders

"Shoot them dead," Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised address last week as a warning to what he described as troublemakers who may endanger the lives of police enforcing a month-long coronavirus lockdown.

Days later, it happened. On Saturday, a police officer in the southern province of Augsan Del Norte shot dead a 63-year old man. According to the police report, the man, who appeared drunk, got angry after being told to wear a face mask and attacked village officials and a police officer with a scythe.

Jonathan Malaya, an undersecretary at the Department of Interior and Local Government, said the government's security personnel had no choice.

"It was a person who threatened our police officers several times," he said in an online press briefing.

Virus Outbreak Philippines
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, gestures as he delivers his speech at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, March 12, 2020.  RTVM via AP

In a separate incident last weekend, 19 people were arrested and charged with violating lockdown rules by selling vegetables in a Manila suburb. Activists appealed for compassion and said the vendors were out only because they were not getting any government help.

 

Supreme Court cancels April oral arguments amid coronavirus crisis

The Supreme Court has postponed oral arguments scheduled for April, it announced Friday, as states and the federal government scramble to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in 11 cases, including a closely watched dispute on faithless electors and the Electoral College, across the last two weeks of April. The court has not yet said how it will handle those cases, as well as others scheduled to be heard in March and postponed, but said it would consider rescheduling some of them before the end of its term in late June "if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at that time."

"The court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term," the court's public information office said in a statement.

 

Calls to U.K. national domestic abuse hotline up 25% since coronavirus lockdown began

Calls to Britain's national domestic abuse hotline have jumped 25% since the U.K.'s coronavirus lockdown began a little more than two weeks ago, the charity that runs it, Refuge, said Monday. Activists had warned that the stay-at-home orders could lead to an increase in domestic violence.

"Ordinarily, the window for women to seek help is extremely limited," Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of charity Refuge said in a statement. "During periods of isolation with their perpetrators, this window narrows further. It is critical that women have alternative, digital ways of accessing help."

Refuge said visits to its website had increased by 150% over the same period, stressing that while the COVID-19 pandemic may be exacerbating the problem, it is not causing it.

"Domestic abuse is a crime and is ultimately rooted in power and control. Violence is a choice a man makes. He alone is responsible for it," Horley said.

 

Wells Fargo stops taking applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans

Wells Fargo is bowing out of a new federal program aimed at helping small businesses retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic. The bank announced late Sunday that it would no longer accept new loan applications under the government's Paycheck Protection Program, which launched last week as part of Washington's $2.2 trillion economic relief package. 

Wells also said it planned to lend a maximum of $10 billion through the program and that it has already received more than enough applications to reach that threshold. Any requests for loans submitted after April 5 will not be considered, according to the bank.

Coronavirus' crushing impact on small business in America

Since the program launched on Friday, most U.S. banks are processing loans only for existing clients. Wells Fargo's exit could shut out some of its small business customers that have not yet applied for a loan. That's especially significant because Wells Fargo arranged more small business loans than any other lender in the country last year.

 

Police in Texas looking for teen who they say may be "willfully spreading" COVID-19

Police in Carrollton, Texas have identified but not yet located an 18-year-old girl who claims to have the coronavirus and is "willfully spreading" it, officials said.

Officials said Lorraine Maradiaga, 18, is facing a charge of terroristic threat after she reportedly claimed to be positive for COVID-19 and appeared in a Snapchat video allegedly infecting consumers at a local Walmart.

Officials said although they have no confirmation the teen is actually a threat to public health, they are taking her threats seriously.

-DFW/CBS Dallas

 

Some U.S. hospitals temporarily cutting staff as coronavirus crisis worsens

In the middle of the coronavirus crisis, many hospitals across the U.S. are suddenly losing revenue. In some cases that means staff are being furloughed, right as the pandemic is worsening.

In Florida, at Miami-Dade County's Jackson Memorial Hospital, executives say they're taking pay cuts, and other employees are being asked to go on temporary furloughs due to the financial strain.

"We were required to take time off; we were required to take our personal leave time," said RN case manager Angela Freshly Fairchild, who was surprised to receive an email saying she would be mandated to take a week off in the middle of the crisis.

"I couldn't understand it, because all around the country they are asking for nurses right now," said Fairchild.

Read more here about how the ripple effects of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic are hitting hospitals around the country. 

Some hospitals cut staff as coronavirus crisis worsens
 

Small Georgia town's mayor lambastes governor's "reckless mandate" to reopen beach

A small coastal city in Georgia that thrives on tourism closed its beach, fearing carefree crowds of teenagers and college students posed too great a risk for spreading the new coronavirus. Two weeks later, the state's governor has reversed that decision, saying people weathering the outbreak need fresh air and exercise.

The clash has thrust tiny Tybee Island into a thorny debate that keeps cropping up during the coronavirus pandemic: How much can officials curtail freedoms during the crisis? And should those calls be made at the federal, state or local level?

Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions, sworn in barely three months ago, has taken on Gov. Brian Kemp after state officials on Friday reopened the beach in this community of 3,100 people.  

tybee-island-wtoc.jpg
A sign welcoming visitors is seen near the beach in Tybee Island, Georgia.   WTOC

The change resulted from the Republican governor's order that people statewide should "shelter in place" — that is, they should stay home unless working jobs deemed essential, seeking medical care, shopping for groceries, or other exceptions including exercising outdoors. It also invalidated any restrictions already imposed by local governments if they went beyond the governor's limits.

That meant a unanimous decision by Tybee Island's city council to close its beach was suddenly overridden, and Sessions said the governor's office declined to reconsider the "reckless mandate" when asked. 

-CBS/AP

 

Improvements in hard-hit Italy and Spain as U.K.'s COVID-19-postitive leader hospitalized for tests

Conditions appear to be improving in the two hardest-hit European countries, with Italy's daily coronavirus death toll declining for two weeks and Spain reporting fewer deaths on each of the last three days.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was still in a London hospital for tests Monday morning after more than a week of persistent fever following a positive COVID-19 test. But as CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports, officials say Johnson is still in charge.

Johnson has faced harsh criticism for acting too slowly against the virus. Just one month ago he was still shaking hands enthusiastically. But now the wrath of the virus has taken hold in Britain, which has just seen its three deadliest days yet.

With Johnson in the hospital, the U.K. Foreign Secretary was to chair the daily crisis briefing on Monday, but in a tweet from his hospital room, Johnson assure the nation he was in "good spirits."

Boris Johnson hospitalized with persistent coronavirus symptoms
 

Patients rushing to join studies of promising coronavirus drug remdesivir

The new coronavirus made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital. His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumonia-choked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts General's Intensive Care Unit.

When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that's shown promise against some other coronaviruses, it "did not even cross my mind once to say 'no,"' said Singh, a heart specialist.

Coronavirus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks.

Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The drug's maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies, too.

-Associated Press

Trump says 1.67 million Americans tested for coronavirus and touts drugs to fight disease
 

Japan to go under national state of emergency as COVID-19 outbreak grows

In what was seen as a long-awaited bow to the inevitable, Japanese Prime Minister Abe has announced he will declare a national state of emergency over the growing coronavirus epidemic in the country. To take effect Tuesday, the action will cover most of Japan's densely populated metro areas — Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa; and Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka to the west.

The seven jurisdictions have a combined population of 55.9 million — accounting for about one out of every two Japanese residents.

Local governors, the Japan Medical Association and others have been urging a shutdown, warning that waiting for cases to spike risked the collapse of the national health care system. 

"We need your cooperation to prevent an explosive surge," Abe said Monday evening, appealing to residents for calm and making a point of saying Japan's shutdown would be far less heavy-handed than lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe. 

Tokyo issues stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases surge

Most of the measures being taken are "requests" for restraint. Residents are asked to work from home and leave only for essential reasons. Department stores, coffee shops and retail chains had already started to voluntarily shut down in recent days, as Tokyo's case numbers continued to rise at an alarming clip. 

Civil liberties protections in Japan don't allow authorities to issue jail terms or fines for non-compliance, so a heavy dose of peer pressure and the weight of the emergency declaration are being deployed instead. 

 

Relatively unscathed by COVID-19, Jordan looking at ways to bring economy back to life

After more than two weeks with his country under strict lockdown, Jordan's King Abdullah II has asked his ministers to look into ways to gradually bring the country's economy back to work. 

"No one in the world has an ideal solution to combat the effects of the coronavirus. This requires us to be more flexible and fast in adapting to the changes," the king was quoted as saying. 

The tough, early measures imposed in Jordan appear to have paid off: Jordan's Ministry of Health has confirmed only 345 cases in the country, and 110 of those patients have already recovered. Only five COVID-19-related deaths have been reported. The numbers are way below Jordan's neighboring countries.

"Protecting Jordan from the pandemic requires efforts sustained over a long period," economic analyst Jawad Abbassi told CBS News. 

"To be able to do that effectively the government needs revenues," he said, urging Jordan's leaders to "look at this as a marathon and not as short sprint."

-Amjad Tadros

Jordan imposes coronavirus lockdown as cases spread in Middle East
 

Another death among passengers from cruise ship docked in Miami

Authorities say 14 people have been taken to hospitals from a cruise ship that docked in Florida with coronavirus victims aboard and that one of them has died. Two fatalities were reported earlier aboard the Coral Princess, which docked Saturday in Miami. The ship had more than 1,000 passengers and nearly 900 crew members.

Authorities didn't immediately disclose whether any of the 14 people removed for immediate medical attention had confirmed coronavirus links.

The Princess Cruises line ship began disembarking fit passengers cleared for charter flights Sunday. The cruise line said it was delayed by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy preventing passengers from being placed on commercial flights.

Anyone with symptoms of the disease or recovering from it was being kept on the ship until medically cleared. 

- Associated Press

Cruise passengers to be flown home without quarantine, despite concerns
 

2020 Democrats adapt campaigns to coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has thrown a wrench into the campaign plans for 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. 

But the candidates and their campaign staff are still working on ways to get their messages across at a time when large social gatherings are banned. Watch Ed O'Keefe's full report in the video below.  

2020 Democrats adapt campaigns to coronavirus pandemic
 

Trump warns "toughest week" coming, but "things will start changing for the better"

President Trump and Vice President Pence voiced optimism Sunday about the coronavirus pandemic, saying the number of new cases reported daily in the country appears to be leveling off. 

"The U.S. will reach a horrific point in terms of death, but it will be a point where things will start changing for the better," Mr. Trump said. 

Trump describes U.S. response to coronavirus as "all out military operation"

The president said that by Tuesday, 3,000 military and public health workers will have been deployed across the country. He said the U.S. has conducted and received results of more than 1.6 million coronavirus tests, and that work is ramping up on potential drugs to treat the disease.

New Jersey has become a hot zone, Mr. Trump said, noting that the fatality rate in New York has dropped, which "maybe a good sign."  

Read more here.

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