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Coronavirus live updates: President Trump says data shows US has ‘passed the peak’

President Trump also threatened to use what he says is his constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress to clear the way for recess appointments.

Key updates for Wednesday, April 15, 2020:
  • President Trump claims the United States "has passed the peak" on new cases.
  • The U.S. has passed 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 3 million tests have been conducted.
  • At 106, a British woman is the oldest known virus survivor.
  • Tour de France rescheduled to start Aug. 29.
  • Poll: Nearly 3/4 of Americans say they will adopt a "wait and see" approach to returning to old habits after social restrictions are lifted.
  • 2 House Democrats are proposing $2,000 per month stimulus checks for Americans.
  • Reports: Trump's name will be added to stimulus checks at his suggestion.
  • California has issued an outline for possibly reopening the state, but it will continue to include measures of social distancing.
  • From Tuesday, April 14 blog: Trump directs halt of payments to the World Health Organization.
The United States has more than 632,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Just after 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the U.S. had 634,975 confirmed cases with 27,940 deaths and 51,770 recoveries. Over 3.1 million tests have been conducted in the U.S.
Worldwide, there are nearly 2 million confirmed cases with more than 133,000 deaths and 510,000 recoveries.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.



Chris Cuomo says his wife, like him, has the coronavirus

Chris Cuomo says his wife Cristina has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. 
The CNN anchor revealed last month that he was diagnosed with the virus and at the time said he hoped he would not infect his wife and children.

Cuomo made the announcement on CNN during an interview with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, While  Chris Cuomo has said his symptoms have caused high fevers and even hallucinations, he said his wife is fine and taking the diagnosis in stride.

Students could take SAT at home if schools remain closed

A home version of the SAT college entrance exam is being prepared in case schools remain closed into the fall. College Board officials said Wednesday that it’s an unlikely scenario but one they are prepared for. 
The announcement came as the College Board canceled SAT testing scheduled for June because of coronavirus-related school closures. The College Board says the closures have forced the cancellation of spring testing for about 1 million first-time SAT test-takers. The rival ACT also will launch an at-home option in late fall or early winter. 
The home versions for both tests will rely on “remote proctoring.”

President Trump claims some states may open sooner

President Trump on Wednesday during the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing said the United States "has passed the peak" on new cases. He said on Thursday he will have a discussion with governors and announce new guidelines for various states to open sooner than the May 1 deadline.
"These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country, which we'll be announcing. We're going to be talking about that tomorrow," he said. "It's very exciting."
The president has been very eager to reopen the country throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

President Donald Trump is threatened to use what he says is his constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress to clear the way for recess appointments to his administration.
Trump said lawmakers have made it difficult to run the federal government, saying “every week, they put up roadblocks.” He says that the current practice of conducting “phony, pro-forma” sessions of Congress so that he can’t make recess appointments is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during the coronavirus crisis.
He complains that some of his nominees have waited years for approval, though previous presidents have leveled similar complaints.

New York to require face coverings in busy public places

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state residents will be required to wear face coverings when they are out and coming in close contact with other people. The new mandate will require a mask or face covering on busy streets, public transit or any situation where people cannot maintain six feet of social distancing. The mandate takes effect Friday.  Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged a cautious and deliberative approach to reviving the economy. 

Feds under pressure to publicly track nursing home outbreaks

Federal health officials are coming under increasing pressure to start publicly tracking coronavirus infections and deaths in nursing homes amid criticism they have not been transparent enough in responding to an explosion of outbreaks. Public health experts say the lack of transparency has been a major blindspot, and that publicizing outbreaks could help officials see whether safety measures are working and identify recurring issues that are fueling the spread.  Because the federal government has not been releasing a count of its own, The Associated Press has been keeping its own tally. The latest count shows more than 4,400 deaths.

US relief checks begin arriving as economic damage piles up

Government relief checks began arriving in Americans’ bank accounts as the economic damage to the U.S. from the coronavirus piled up Wednesday and sluggish sales at reopened stores in Europe and China made it clear that business won’t necessarily bounce right back when the crisis eases. 
The IRS activated a https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment Wednesday that allows taxpayers to check on the status of their payment, confirm how they want to be paid (direct deposit or check) and to enter their bank account information for direct deposit purposes. 
However, some people using the tracker have recieved an error message. 
Meanwhile, a new bill, named the Emergency Money for the People Act is being introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. The bill would give Americans 16 and older making less than $130,000 at least $2,000 per month.

Trudeau says Canada's lockdown will last 'many more weeks'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s lockdown will last “many more weeks” and warned Canadians if the economy is reopened too soon all the sacrifices they are making now might be for nothing because the country could see another peak in coronavirus cases. Trudeau said Wednesday that Canada is still “a number of weeks away” from being able to start to reopen and urged Canadians to be patient. He said once there is some reopening, there is going to be a need for rapid testing on a wide scale and extensive contact tracing for those who test positive.  

WHO head responds to Trump cutting funding to the organization

The head of the World Health Organization says it regrets the U.S. decision to halt funding.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the U.S. has been “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO and we hope it will continue to be so.”
He made the comments after President Donald Trump announced a halt to U.S. funding, temporarily suspending millions of dollars from the U.N health agency’s biggest funder.
Tedros says WHO remained committed to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and it would work with its partners to ensure that any funding shortfall could be met.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich nations and poor, large nations and small,” Tedros said. “This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat, a dangerous enemy. When we’re divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us."
Tedros says WHO’s member countries and independent organizations will assess the U.N. health agency’s performance at a later day. But the focus must remain on ending the outbreak.

At 106, British woman is oldest known virus survivor

At 106, Connie Titchen feels lucky. The former department store sales assistant is Britain’s oldest known survivor of COVID-19.
Titchen was applauded by staff Tuesday at Birmingham’s City Hospital, leaving after three weeks as a patient.
In a statement released by the hospital, Titchen says “I feel very lucky that I’ve fought off this virus. I can’t wait to see my family.”
Granddaughter Alex Jones says Titchen “has had a really active life” and remains independent. She says her grandmother still cooked for herself but also enjoyed a trip to McDonald’s every now and then.
“I haven’t told her they are closed,” she added.
The British government said Wednesday that 12,868 people have died in U.K. hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus, up 761 from the day before. The figure doesn’t include deaths in nursing homes and other settings.

Tour de France rescheduled to start Aug. 29

This year’s Tour de France will start on Aug. 29 and finish on Sept. 20 and will be followed by cycling’s two other major races.
The International Cycling Union announced the new dates after consulting with race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation. The Tour could not start as scheduled on June 27 because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UCI also says the world championships will go ahead as planned from Sept. 20-27 and will be followed by the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta. No official dates were given for those two major races.
The UCI says prestigious one-day road classics such as Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be maintained at dates still to be defined.

Amazon threatens to suspend shipments in France 

Amazon threatened to suspend all activity in France after a French court found it wasn’t doing enough to protect its workers.

The online giant also announced plans to appeal Tuesday’s emergency ruling, which requires Amazon to stop selling nonessential goods for a month while it works out new worker safety measures.
Sales of food, medicine and hygiene supplies are still allowed under the ruling. However, Amazon France says the decision is so disruptive that it could prompt the company to suspend all activity at its six French warehouses.
The company stressed the importance of its services to the “thousands of French companies that sell on Amazon” and “millions of people around the country who want to have access to products they need during the crisis.”
Amazon insisted it is providing adequate security measures for staff, noting the implementation of temperature checks and mask distribution.
But the court found Amazon didn’t do enough to enforce social distancing, to ensure that turnstiles and locker rooms were virus-free or to increase cleaning of its warehouses. Unions say one worker infected with the virus is in intensive care.

Poll: 71% will 'wait to see' after restrictions are lifted

A new Gallup poll finds 71% of Americans plan to wait to see what happens after social contact restrictions are lifted before deciding whether to return to their old habits. Another 10 percent said they will continue to limit contact with others and daily activities indefinitely.
People in cities and suburbs were more likely than people in rural areas to adopt the "wait to see" attitude. Democrats and independents were also more likely than Republicans to go with that level of caution. 
Regardless, a majority of every major demographic group said they would not immediately jump back into their old ways. 

2 House Democrats propose $2,000 per month stimulus

House Democrats Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna have introduced legislation to give millions of Americans $2,000 per month during the coronavirus pandemic. The congressmen say the one-time, $1,200 stimulus going out to many Americans isn't good enough given skyrocketing unemployment.
Every American age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually would receive at least $2,000 per month. Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive $4,000 per month. 
The payments would be guaranteed for six months and continue until the employment-to-population ratio for people age 16 and older is above 60%, the congressmen said.

Reports: Trump's name to appear on stimulus checks

In what is being called an unprecedented move, the stimulus checks many Americans will receive due to the economic effects of the new coronavirus pandemic will include President Donald Trump's name. That's according to reports by the Washington Post, New York Times and Bloomberg News.
The Post reports it will be the first time a president's name appears on an IRS payment. It will appear in the memo section of the check. The addition was made after Trump suggested it to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Post and Times reported.
Various officials, including a Treasury Department spokeswoman cited by Bloomberg, are denying a report by the Post that the addition of Trump's name could delay the checks by several days. The Post was citing unnamed senior IRS officials in that inference.
This affects only the physical checks that will be sent to tens of millions of people, not the direct deposits.

California governor provides complex outline for reopening
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday outlined a complex set of circumstances for the state to lift coronavirus restrictions and then described a possible startling new normal: temperature checks for restaurant customers, staggered start times for public schools to keep students separated and no crowds at sporting events, fairs or concerts.
It was a reality check for the state's 40 million residents after days of encouraging reports about the slow growth in new cases that had many hopeful for a reset of public life following a depressing early spring spent mainly indoors.

But Newsom said he won't consider loosening the state's stay-at-home orders until hospitalizations, particularly those in intensive care units, “flatten and start to decline” for at least two weeks. Even then, the governor listed six conditions that must be met, including expanded testing, more protective equipment for health care workers, better treatment and an improved ability to track and isolate those who have been infected — all things the state has struggled to accomplish thus far.

Alaska to lift ban on elective medical procedures

Alaska  plans to lift restrictions on elective medical procedures in what Gov. Mike Dunleavy described Tuesday as an initial step toward reopening segments of the economy affected by concerns with the coronavirus.
State officials last week updated a mandate requiring non-urgent or elective procedures be canceled or postponed for three months. The update included surgical abortion under a section of surgeries that “could be delayed for a few weeks,” but made an exception if the woman's life or physical health was endangered.
Some saw the inclusion of abortion in the list as political. The mandate stated the overall goal was to preserve protective equipment for health care workers and patient care supplies; ensure staff and patient safety and expand available hospital capacity.
Alaska has 285 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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