COVID-19 kills 19 Italian doctors as virus spreads among under-equipped health workers
Italy’s National Health Service said Monday that 4,824 health care workers in the country have contracted the new coronavirus. That represents 9% of all coronavirus infections in Italy, more than double the figure reported in China. As of Monday, 19 Italian doctors have died with the disease.
In one hospital in the hard-hit Lombardy region, 25 of the 90 doctors are infected. In the city of Bergamo, 22% of the city’s family doctors are infected or quarantined after possible exposure. The infections are compounding the strain on a health care system that is already stretched to the limit.
Italian health care workers have warned since the beginning of the crisis that shortages of personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves are putting them and their patients at risk. In at least two hospitals in Lombardy, patients infected medical personnel who then went on to infect other patients.
“That is one factor that has helped the virus spread so quickly,” said Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research.
Italy has fast-tracked training to get new doctors, nurses and technicians to the front lines.
Medical staff wearing protective masks, glasses and suits treat patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona, Italy March 19, 2020.
FLAVIO LO SCALZO/REUTERS
Meanwhile, Italian authorities were cautiously hopeful Sunday when latest infection and fatality figures showed what appeared to be a decline in the growth rate of the virus. The number of new infections rose by a relatively modest 10.4% percent, and the 651 fatalies for the day, although high, was significantly lower than the 793 recorded the day before.
– Anna Matranga
Dozens of House Democrats renew call for remote voting over coronavirus fears
Representative Katie Porter, an outspoken freshman Democrat from California, is renewing her call to allow remote voting in the U.S. House of Representatives so lawmakers can continue working while avoiding close contact amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We write to request that you enact a temporary change to House Rules to allow remote voting by Members of the House during national emergencies, especially the current one involving COVID-19,” Porter wrote in the letter to House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, which was signed by 66 of her colleagues.
The California Democrat’s letter, sent Monday morning, picked up dozens of signatures over the weekend in the wake of Sunday’s revelation that Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tested positive for the coronavirus. Two other senators said they would self-quarantine for 14 days due to their contact with Paul.
– Molly Hooper
Stocks drop despite Federal Reserve’s vow of unlimited help
Stocks declined on Monday despite the Federal Reserve’s announcement of an unlimited expansion of bond purchasing programs to grease the economy’s wheels as the coronavirus pandemic causes U.S. business to grind to a halt. The Fed’s pledge failed to reverse a plunge in futures trading on Sunday night after a stimulus bill stalled in the U.S. Senate.
The Dow declined 550 points, or 2.9%, to 18,624 in morning trading. The broad-based S&P 500-stock index also fell 2.9% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 1.7%.
The Fed announced a series of sweeping steps Monday morning, saying it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments, on top of extending its bond buying programs to a range of companies. The Fed’s ongoing efforts to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak buoyed investors after Wall Street suffered brutal losses last week, wiping out the stock market gains of President Donald Trump’s entire presidency so far.
“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Surgeon General warns Americans
“I didn’t expect to be starting off my week with such a dire message for America, but the numbers are going to get worse this week,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on “CBS This Morning” Monday.
“Things are going to get worse before they get better, and we really need everyone to understand this is serious, to lean into what they can do to flatten the curve,” he said.
Asked about health officials and governors warning the Trump administration about shortages of critical medical supplies, Dr. Adams said: “I’m getting those calls every minute of the day. I got calls from people literally while I was sitting here waiting to talk to you. I want the health care workers of America to understand, these are my colleagues, these are my friends, and I will not rest until you all have the tools you need to keep yourselves safe.”
U.S. surgeon general on federal government’s efforts to distribute medical supplies
2 senior Egyptian military officials die with COVID-19 in 2 days
A second senior military officer in Egypt has died of the new coronavirus, state television reported Monday, as the officially declared death toll stood at 14 from 327 cases recorded nationwide.
Major General Shafee Dawood, head of major infrastructure projects at the military engineering authority, became the latest high-ranking figure in Egypt to die from COVID-19 in hospital.
His death comes after Major General Khaled Shaltout, the army’s chief of water management, died from the virus late Sunday. State television said Shaltout contracted the disease after having taken part in “sterilization” procedures to stave off the virus.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who met on March 3 with both of the generals who have now died, said Sunday his government has dealt with the pandemic with “full transparency” and denied the true infection rate was being suppressed.
On social media, Egyptians have been critical of the government’s perceived slow handling of the pandemic.
Pompeo says Iran’s COVID-19 “fabrications” put world “at greater risk”
Iran continues to accuse the U.S. of crippling its coronavirus response with sanctions and the U.S. continues to accuse Iran of lying about how and why the disease has spread so fast in the Islamic Republic.
As CBS News’ Seyed Bathaei reports from Tehran, the Iranian authorities have argued for weeks that harsh U.S. sanctions have made it hard for the country to import the medical equipment needed to fight the epidemic. Some Iranian officials have even pushed a claim that the U.S. government created the virus and deliberately unleashed it on the country.
President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said the sanctions do not affect medical resources, and visiting Afghanistan on Monday, Pompeo said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “fabrications” about the disease were “dangerous and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk.”
Pompeo then listed five “facts,” accusing Iran’s regime of choosing to spend state money supporting global terrorism rather than fighting COVID-19. He blasted Iran for allowing direct flights to and from mainland China in February and blamed the Islamic Republic for spreading the disease around the Middle East.
Black and Hispanic workers less able to work from home
The governors of California, Illinois and New York have imposed lockdowns on their states requiring non-essential workers to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Those restrictions hit certain minority groups especially hard, research suggests.
A disproportionately high share of black and Hispanic workers cannot telecommute, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute based on federal labor data. Asian workers, followed by white workers, were most likely to be able to do their jobs remotely.
From 2017 to 2018, 29.9% of white workers surveyed said they could work from home, compared to 19.7% of black or African American workers and 16.2% of Latino workers. Thirty-seven percent of Asian workers said they could do their jobs remotely, according to the report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I’m scared”: Pandemic hitting small businesses and hourly workers hard
As U.S. businesses shut their doors, unemployment claims are surging. The number of Americans affected by the closures is staggering; some experts say 7 million people could lose their jobs between April and June, and the unemployment rate could shoot up to nearly 9 percent by later this year.
It’s unclear how long the economy, and many Americans’ livelihoods, will be paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closures have been especially hard on the retail, hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. Roughly 82 million people – three-fifths of the U.S. workforce – are hourly employees, most of whom won’t be paid if they don’t work.
CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan met some of the people in this dire situation already, and as you’ll see in the video below, the fear is real, and like the virus, it’s spreading.
Small businesses worried about surviving coronavirus crisis
Germany reports early progress with new infection rate “flattening off slightly”
The drastic measures imposed in Germany to slow the spread of the new coronavirus have begun to have an effect. While the number of new cases continues to rise, the head of the country’s public health agency says the rate of increase is slowing.
“We are seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is flattening off slightly,” Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute, said Monday. He cautioned that he would only be able to confirm the positive trend with more data by mid-week, but said: “I am optimistic that the measures are already having an effect, which is very early because they have only been in place for a week.”
The epidemic does continue to spread fast, Wieler cautioned, with 22,672 cases confirmed in Germany on Monday, an increase of 4,062 since Sunday. There have been 86 deaths blamed on the disease in Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media to announce further measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, March 22, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Following her speech, Merkel went home to quarantine after a doctor she was in contact with tested positive for coronavirus.
CLEMENS BILAN /POOL/Getty
Wieler repeatedly warned that Germans to heed the latest restrictions on social contacts, announced Sunday by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The chancellor, now quarantined herself after close contact with a doctor who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, has banned gatherings of more than two people who do not live in the same household.
– Anna Noryskiewicz
India banning all flights as virus lockdowns clear the roads – and the poisonous air
With 19 of India’s 28 states under complete lockdown orders and partial curbs being enforced in six others to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, about 1 billion people are now largely off the streets.
All but essential business and most ground transport has been shut down. The government decided Monday to stop all domestic passenger flights from Tuesday at midnight. International flights were banned last week.
The government announced the new restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country started rising sharply, with private labs now also allowed to administer tests.
A car is allowed to continue its journey as incoming traffic to Delhi is stopped by policemen at a checkpoint at the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi border along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway to inforce a lockdown order by Delhi’s government as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in Ghazipur on March 23, 2020.
The widespread lockdowns have at least helped clear India’s noxious air, vastly improving air quality in cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Lucknow, and Kanpur, which typically rank among the world’s most polluted.
On Monday, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was around 50, or “good” – rare for the Indian capital, which usually remains in the “unhealthy” to “hazardous” zones with an AQI between 250 to 350. On the worst days of the year in the winter, the AQI in Delhi can exceed 999, the highest figure air quality monitors can even register.
– Arshad R. Zargar
Senate resumes negotiations on mammoth COVID-19 relief package
U.S. Senators returned to Capitol Hill Monday morning to resume negotiations after hitting a partisan wall Sunday night as they craft another coronavirus relief bill expected to cost the nation as much as $2 trillion.
Republicans say they’ve already made big concessions, with some calling the bill “unemployment insurance on steroids,” but Democrats say there aren’t enough protections for workers and some are upset over what they’re calling a new “slush fund” in the bill.
Watch the video below for CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes’ explanation of what the proposed legislation would do, and when it might pass.
Senate hits partisan wall on coronavirus relief bill
Fear for Lupus patients after Trump wrongly touts vital drug as COVID-19 treatment
Two of the drugs President Trump has touted as treatments for the new COVID-19 disease, in spite of the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved them for such use, are vital medications for patients with Lupus.
Amid reports that people with the debilitating disease were already struggling to fill their long-standing prescriptions, the Lupus Foundation of America released a statement saying it recognized that the possible new use “means that these drugs may be in high demand in the coming weeks.”
“We are actively working with our medical and scientific advisors, other patient groups, partners, and the federal government to take steps that ensure people with lupus will be protected from a disruption in access to critical medications,” the foundation said, adding that “hospitals and clinics that treat people with lupus also are working to ensure that those with existing prescriptions will be able to continue their course of treatment.”
The FDA last week was forced to walk back Mr. Trump’s claim that chloroquine had already been approved for use as a COVID-19 treatment.
Nigeria reports chloroquine poisonings after Trump says drug “approved” for COVID-19
Authorities in Lagos, Nigeria say hospitals have seen cases of chloroquine poisoning after U.S. President Donald Trump touted the drug as a treatment against the new coronavirus.
Mr. Trump on Thursday said the anti-malarial drug had been “approved” to treat COVID-19 by America’s Food and Drug Administration, only for the head of the agency to row back and say it had not yet been given a definitive green light.
The drug has recently been used to treat coronavirus patients in China and in France, where some researchers said it showed great promise, though scientists agree that only more trials would determine if it really works and is safe.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when asked whether there’s any evidence that the drug is useful for COVID-19, replied bluntly: “No.”
He said the hopes Mr. Trump expressed were based on “anecdotal” information.
“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,” Fauci said.
China accuses U.S. of wasting “precious time” by “politicizing the epidemic”
China’s foreign ministry says the U.S. is “completely wasting the precious time” Beijing had won in attacking the global coronavirus outbreak that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing Monday that the U.S. has attempted to “discredit others and look for a scapegoat to shift its responsibilities.”
He added that the U.S. should “stop politicizing the epidemic, stop stigmatizing and defaming China and other countries.”
China’s health ministry says Wuhan has now gone five consecutive days without a new infection, showing the effectiveness of draconian travel restrictions that are slowly being relaxed around the country.
At the same time, China is stepping up measures to prevent the virus from being brought back from overseas, requiring international flights into Beijing to first stop at airports outside the capital for inspection.
– Associated Press
World Health Organization warns criminals posing as staff as fraud efforts mount
The World Health Organization says criminals are increasingly posing as WHO officials in an effort to swipe information or money from people during the coronavirus crisis.
Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Monday that attackers are using “multiple impersonation approaches” such as fraudulent phone calls and phishing on email and through social media.
The U.N. health agency said it is working to confirm and debunk such attempts and alert local authorities. It has set up a website to help people prevent fraud during the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus scams claim to offer vaccines, treatment and testing
“Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate,” WHO said.
WHO says its official emails come from the “who.int” domain.
– Associated Press
OECD chief says virus demands “sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated” response
Governments scrambling to defend their own economies against the coronavirus pandemic are being urged to coordinate to ward off a long-term global recession and future waves of infections. The head of the OECD group of advanced economies said the coordination ought to exceed both the 1930s New Deal and the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II.
A global recession looks “increasingly likely” in the first half of this year, “and we must act now to avoid a protracted recession,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“Only a sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated effort can deal with the immediate public health emergency, buffer the economic shock and develop a path towards recovery,” he said in a weekend statement.
While many governments are unveiling titanic spending packages against the COVID-19 pandemic, exceeding even the 2008 financial crisis, there has so far been no collective action plan from fora such as the G7 or G20.
Summer Olympics in Tokyo headed for almost certain delay
The Tokyo Olympics are going to happen, but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned.
This became clear after the International Olympic Committee on Sunday announced it was considering a postponement and would make a final decision within four weeks. Major Olympic nations like Canada and Australia have added pressure by saying they will not send teams if the games are staged this year, over fear of the still-spreading coronavirus disease.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is displayed outside the railway station in Tono, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020.
“I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open,” he wrote. “I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through.”
– Associated Press
Hong Kong to ban all non-resident arrivals over virus
Hong Kong will ban all non-residents from entering the financial hub from Wednesday, its leader said Monday, as it tries to halt a recent spike in virus infections from people returning from abroad.
“From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, adding the order would be in place for at least two weeks.
Japan requiring 2-week quarantine for all visitors from U.S.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that Japan will require all visitors from the United States to be quarantined for 14 days. That includes Japanese and Americans and is effective Thursday through the end of April.
He cited escalating COVID-19 infections around the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe in recent weeks.
Japan on Sunday raised a travel advisory for the U.S., urging the Japanese citizens not to make nonessential trips to the U.S.
Abe noted the U.S. recently took similar measures and urged Americans not to make nonessential trips to Japan and required a 14-day quarantine for entrants.
He said Monday’s quarantine requirement is in line with measures taken by other countries.
– The Associated Press
Secret Service employee tests positive
The U.S. Secret Service says one of its employees has COVID-19, but it’s not saying whether that employee is an agent.
The service said in a statement early Monday that an employee tested positive for the disease and is in quarantine.
It said it did a thorough check and determined the employee hasn’t had contact with any other Secret Service employee or person the service protects for almost three weeks.
South Korea ramps up screenings of air passengers from Europe
South Korea says it tested more than 1,440 passengers arriving from Europe for the coronavirus as the country tightens border controls to prevent the illness from re-entering from the West.
The office of Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Monday said 152 of the passengers who arrived on Sunday were tested at airport isolation facilities after exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms.
The office says the other 1,290 passengers were taken to an employee training center of the SK business group in Incheon and that six of them have so far been sent home after testing negative.
South Korea began testing all passengers arriving from Europe on Sunday and enforcing 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals arriving from Europe and foreigners entering the country from Europe on long-term stay visas.
Chung says his government is also considering expanding the measures to passengers arriving from North America.
– The Associated Press