Coronavirus US news summary: cases and deaths - 26 April

Coronavirus live United States: latest Covid-19 news - 25/26 April

US coronavirus update at 17:45 EST/14:45 PST on Sunday 26 April (23:45 CEST)

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University2,962,915 cases have been detected worldwide, with 206,055 deaths and 861,590 people now recovered.

In the USA, there have been 963,168 cases with 54,530 deaths. 106,518 people have recovered from the virus.

Will the IRS send a second stimulus check to eligible Americans?

An estimated 80 million people are eligible for stimulus checks. Those yet to receive their money can check the status of their payment on an IRS website.

More details here:

Trump: "The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media"

Busy Madrid street raises alarm bells as under-14s allowed out

This footage of a crowded street in Madrid has emerged on the first day of Spain's eased lockdown restrictions, with children under 14 now allowed out for walks:

UK PM Johnson reportedly back at Downing Street

British prime minister Boris Johnson is back at 10 Downing Street after recovering from Covid-19, Sky News has reported.

Oklahoma asks Trump to declare coronavirus "act of God"

Oklahoma's governor has called on US president Donald Trump to declare the coronavirus pandemic an "act of God", a step to help oil-producing states contend with a crude glut that caused futures prices to close below $0 last week for the first time.

"Over-production of oil continues to threaten the economy," governor J. Kevin Stitt said in a letter to Trump that Stitt posted on Twitter late on Saturday. Declaring a 'force majeure' or 'act of God' would allow oil companies to halt operations without risking that land leases will be canceled for stopping production, Stitt said.

Oklahoma's energy regulator said on Wednesday that producers could close money-losing wells without losing their leases, the first victory for struggling U.S. oil companies seeking relief from states after the market crash.

US production reached a record-high of near 13 million barrels per day late last year, but the pandemic has cut global consumption by 20% to 30%, or up to 30 million bpd. (Reuters)

Can you get Covid-19 from food and food packaging?

Although extreme caution is recommended when it comes to hygiene, there is a low risk of coronavirus infection from food or its packaging.

Full story:

Cuomo

New York State daily death rate drops

The daily Covid-19 death toll in New York State is markedly lower today than it was on Saturday, with officials having recorded a daily increase of 367 fatalities, compared to 437 a day earlier.

At present, lockdown restrictions have been imposed in the state through to 15 May.

Next wave of U.S. states prepare to reopen as coronavirus could push jobless rate to 16%

Another wave of U.S. states are preparing to lift coronavirus restrictions this week against the warnings of many public health experts as the White House sees this month's jobless rate hitting 16% or higher.

Health experts say increased human interaction could spark a new wave of cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly contagious virus that has already killed nearly 54,000 Americans.

Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee will join other states beginning an experiment to reopen economies without the testing and contact-tracing infrastructure health experts say is needed to prevent a resurgence of infections, with lives in the balance.

Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina have already taken steps to restart their economies following a month of government-ordered lockdowns.

If North Korea faces succession, who might replace Kim Jong-un?

Despite rumours of his death, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was spotted this week at a resort town in the country, according to satellite images reviewed by a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project.

Tiger King, Unorthodox and other Netflix essential lockdown viewing

With many parts of the world under lockdown, platforms such as Netflix have seen a major boost in subscribers as we look for avenues of escape from the Covid-19 virus.

U.S. response to virus splinters into acrimony and uncertainty

(Reuters) Six weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the spreading new coronavirus, the United States is deeply divided over the correct economic and health response.

What was meant as a grand experiment in fast action, nearly $3 trillion in federal support to keep U.S. companies and individuals afloat as economic activity froze, is slipping into a morass of finger-pointing and uncertainty.

Millions of workers in the world's largest economy are wondering when their unemployment benefits will arrive or even when they might be able to register for them. Groups of businesses are squaring off to compete for help. State and city governments are going their own, sometimes conflicting, ways in decisions on when to let business reopen during an infectious national health crisis that does not respect borders.

As a health matter, the approach has also become a mosaic, with a president prone to recommending off-the-cuff and even potentially dangerous remedies, and state officials who agree generically that “more” testing is needed but not exactly on how much more would be required for public safety.

Meanwhile the United States' more than 50,000 COVID-19 deaths are the most in the world, though on a population-adjusted basis its roughly 160 deaths per million as of last week are well below major European nations like Italy, France and Spain.

Trump says coronavirus press conferences a waste of time

Donald Trump has ramped up his war with the media. After he was criticized for his comments about ingesting disinfectant, Trump said he said it sarcastically and that he wanted to put out false reports to see how long the would remain unchallenged. 

"What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Mr Trump tweeted. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!"

An interesting look at Trump's plan for re-election after a botched response to coronavirus. He said he had full authority before saying he takes no responsibility for what state governors do. He has been ridiculed for seemingly encouraging people to ingest disinfectant as a way to fight coronavirus and banned immigration for 60 days during the pandemic. 

US, UK, Germany studying Covid-19 passports

Despite the World Health Organization's misgivings about the possibility of causing social divisions in communities already ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the debate is underway about a Covid-19 immunity passport. Chile, the USA and Catalonia are among the countries and regions considering the measure as a way to gradually lift quarantine restrictions, theoretically without placing the wider population at any greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. 

Emergency calls increase after Trump disinfectant suggestion

On Thursday during the White House daily briefing on the coronavirus update president Donald Trump suggested using disinfectant as a potential treatment for the virus and later on Friday he said it was only a joke that everyone took it serious.

A spokesman for Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said the agency received more than 100 calls about disinfectant and Covid-19. Maryland emergency officials are warning state residents not to inject or ingest disinfectant after more than 100 people called the state’s emergency hotline regarding questions about disinfectant use and COVID-19.

Some practice facilities could be opened by Friday - report

Some NBA practice facilities could re-open as early as Friday, ESPN reports, but that does not mean any resumption of the suspended season is imminent.

The NBA was the first major professional American sports league to halt its season due to the coronavirus, doing so abruptly on March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive.

But as a handful of American states, notably Georgia, are starting to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, the league could be moving to allow players to return to practice facilities in those areas.

The workouts would be voluntary, and individual in nature, EPSN said on its website.

It also reported that the league is working with teams based in locales with stricter stay-at-home orders to find alternative arrangements for their players.

The NBA did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment.

Some American states have been much harder hit by the coronavirus than others.

The NBA was about one-quarter of the way through its regular season of 82 games for each team when the season was halted.

The playoffs had been scheduled to start last week and conclude in mid-June.

The Internal Revenue Service needs you

The Internal Revenue Service is requesting (but not requiring) that several thousand employees return to work to help administrative tasks such as opening mail, processing paper returns and performing several other duties to ease some of the pressure on a service which has been snowed under by recent events.

An IRS statement said employees who return to work will be offered "incentive pay" and will be required to wear face coverings. It added that the agency is working to obtain personal protective equipment and expects many items to be delivered as soon as this weekend. 

 

Trump sued

The Trump administration is facing a lawsuit over a provision in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that denies stimulus checks to more than 1 million US citizens who are married to undocumented immigrants.

The suit was filed on Friday by an Illinois man using the pseudonym John Doe, who seeks to represent all others in his position. Doe claims a carve-out in the relief package discriminates against him “based solely on whom he chose to marry.”

 

Hamilton Bohannon #RIP

Disco and Soul musician Hamilton Bohannon has died at the age of 78. His music was sampled more than 100 times by artists including Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Digable Planets.

US beach

Beaches eyed as United States takes steps toward reopening

Many Americans are expected to flock to beaches on Saturday as one Florida county relaxed restrictions and California braced for a heat wave, even as new cases of the novel coronavirus hit a record high the day before.

Volusia County, home to the famed Daytona Beach, opened lots at its coastal parks on Saturday to handicapped visitors, one step in a phased reopening that has so far limited its beaches to those wanting to walk, surf, bike or swim.

The step is warranted by the county's successful efforts to suppress cases of the virus, George Recktenwald, the county manager, said at a briefing on Friday, although he likened the situation to tapping the brakes on a car going downhill.

"We are starting to let up that brake a little bit but you don't want to do it too fast because you don't want to speed out of control," he said. "If you are on the beach you should be physically active. No sitting, sunbathing or hanging out with a cooler."

Miami set to ease lockdown restrictions

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is on a slow road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and that social distancing measures will remain in place while he reopens the state in phases — similar to the plan put forth by President Donald Trump in mid-April, but with some variations.

109 people die after drinking liquor they believed prevented coronavirus

109 people in the Dominican Republic died after drinking local moonshine known as clerén with the country registering 130 cases of intoxication from the drink.

U.S. state prisons, nearly 3,300 inmates test positive for coronavirus, 96% without symptoms

When the first cases of the new coronavirus surfaced in Ohio’s prisons, the director in charge felt like she was fighting a ghost.

“We weren’t always able to pinpoint where all the cases were coming from,” said Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. As the virus spread, they began mass testing.

They started with the Marion Correctional Institution, which houses 2,500 prisoners in north central Ohio, many of them older with pre-existing health conditions. After testing 2,300 inmates for the coronavirus, they were shocked. Of the 2,028 who tested positive, close to 95% had no symptoms.

“It was very surprising,” said Chambers-Smith, who oversees the state’s 28 correctional facilities. As mass coronavirus testing expands in prisons, large numbers of inmates are showing no symptoms. In four state prison systems -- Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia -- 96% of 3,277 inmates who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, according to interviews with officials and records. That’s out of 4,693 tests that included results on symptoms.

Global coronavirus death toll passes 200,000 mark

Global deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 200,000 on Saturday, while confirmed cases of the virus are expected to hit 3 million in coming days.

Trump hits back

Following the fall-out after the U.S. President recommended ingesting disinfectant as a measure against the virus, he's been advised to scale down his time at daily briefings or not appear at all. That has not prevented Trump from hitting back at his 'fake media foes' on Twitter.

Hello and welcome to our live Covid-19 United States blog where we will bring you the latest breaking news, updates and information relating to the pandemic in the States. At the time of writing over 924,000 people have been diagnosed positive with coronavirus and over 53,000 deaths in the nation as a result of the virus.

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