Americans see months-long pandemic fight ahead – CBS News poll
Most Americans (57%) say the nation’s efforts to combat the coronavirus are going badly right now, most call it a crisis and see a months-long process before it is contained. But the public is pinning its hopes heavily on the nation’s scientists, with eight in 10 optimistic about their ability to eventually find a cure or vaccine, and most are also optimistic that Americans themselves can take steps to slow the spread.
Click here to read more about Americans’ views on the U.S. COVID-19 response, and how our leaders and experts are handling it.
WHO says “very large acceleration” of COVID-19 could make U.S. new pandemic epicenter
A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said Tuesday that the U.N. health agency was seeing a “very large acceleration” in confirmed COVID-19 infections in the U.S.
According to the Reuters news agency, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said the rate of spread was putting the U.S. on pace to become a possible new global epicenter in the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S.,” she said according to Reuters. “So it does have that potential” to become the most challenging outbreak around the world.
Americans brace for predicted rise in coronavirus cases
For about two weeks the WHO has referred to Europe as the epicenter of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain bearing the brunt of the disease. There have been encouraging signs in Italy over the past two days, however, that draconian restrictions on daily life are starting to pay of: the rate of confirmed new infections in the hardest-hit northern region has levelled off.
Iran reports record jump in new COVID-19 cases
Iran on has announced 122 new coronavirus deaths, raising the official toll in the country to 1,934. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said a record 1,762 new cases were confirmed in Iran over the past 24 hours and 24,811 people were known to have been infected in total.
Iran accuses the U.S. of crippling its coronavirus response with sanctions, while the U.S. accuses Iran of lying about how and why the disease has spread so fast in the Islamic Republic.
As CBS News’ Seyed Bathaei reported Monday, Iranian authorities say 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 Pompeo said Monday that 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.”
Mnuchin and Schumer say deal expected today on $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package
Top congressional and White House officials emerged from grueling negotiations at the Capitol over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal Tuesday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they had spoken by phone with President Donald Trump during the long night of negotiations. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some remain.
At midnight Monday, they emerged separately to say talks would continue into the night.
“We look forward to having a deal tomorrow,” Mnuchin told reporters after exiting Schumer’s office.
“The president is giving us direction,” Mnuhcin said. “The president would like to have a deal, and he’s hopeful we can conclude this.”
Moments later, Schumer agreed that a deal was almost within reach. “That’s the expectation – that we finish it tomorrow and hopefully vote on it tomorrow evening,” he said.
– Associated Press
Senate continues to argue over relief package
Confusion as U.K.’s semi-lockdown takes effect
Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all nonessential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicine or to exercise once a day.
But photos showed crowded trains on some London subway lines Tuesday amid confusion about who is still allowed to go to work.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.”
A commuter wearing a protective face mask with people on a platform at Hammersmith underground station as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 24, 2020.
The government says police will have powers break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.
– Associated Press
Virus outbreak forces major downgrading of Olympic torch relay
With this year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics likely to be postponed, organizers made a last-minute decision Tuesday about how to handle one of the most visible icons of the Games: The highly symbolic torch relay will go on ― but without runners, spectators or even the flaming torch itself.
While 10,000 runners were originally enlisted to carry the Olympic flame on foot, traversing a route meant to showcase Japanese culture and scenery while building local enthusiasm for the quadrennial sporting event, the relay instead has been downgraded to just a safety lantern ― the kind used to transport the flame aboard aircraft ― ferried by car. The four-month relay is set to kick off at the J-Village soccer training center in Fukushima on March 26.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is displayed outside the railway station in Tono, Iwate prefecture on March 22, 2020.
Would-be torchbearers didn’t conceal their disappointment. “I was so happy when I was chosen to be a torch runner,” one Fukushima man told TBS TV. “Just having a lantern is extremely regrettable.”
But if reports are accurate, runners will eventually get their day on the macadam ― if the Olympics are rescheduled, organizers say a proper torch relay will be reassembled to usher it in.
China eases curbs on one-time virus epicenter
Chinese authorities are lifting a lockdown in most of its virus-hit Hubei province.
People who are cleared will be able to leave the province after midnight Tuesday.
The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8. China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 and expanded it to most of the province in the days that followed.
Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.
Activists push for the release of vulnerable inmates during pandemic
The nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated across America are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, activists warn, and the virus has already made its way behind bars. The close proximity of inmates, coupled with inadequate treatment, can cause diseases to spread quickly inside prisons, where resources like soap, cleaning supplies and warm water can be hard to come by.
The disease, COVID-19, has sickened tens of thousands of Americans, including 21 inmates and 12 staffers at New York City jails, the largest outbreak behind bars to date. There are more than 40,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., including more than 20,000 in New York state alone.
After freeing two dozen inmates, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and city officials were reviewing the cases of 200 others and considering them for early release. Across the Hudson River, the New Jersey Supreme Court approved the release of up to 1,000 inmates serving time for low-level offenses, which is believed the largest release in response to the virus.