To round-up your week and since it has been dominated by stories — both truthful and untruthful — about COVID-19 and its impact on the lives of Americans from almost every walk in life. There are many problems and issues that were anticipated at the beginning of all this. But far too many unexpected issues continue to pop-up daily that impacts millions of Americans.
Businesses of every type and size are struggling through the obvious and the not-so-obvious issues they face daily. Every part of operating a company in America’s capitalistic system is under attack by this virus.
The big problem for these businesses is that far too many segments of their companies are dealing with issues that were unexpected and therefore create chaos day after day until business operators are able to find ways to either undo issues responsible for the confusion or simply stop operating in that area.
Any way one chooses to view the world today, its landscape was drastically altered when COVID-19 made its unexpected and unplanned-for appearance.
TruthNewsNetwork has for several years published Saturday Bullet Points. That gives our partners an opportunity to catch up on all the important headlines from the week they may have mixed. We’re going today to do something a bit different. We’re doing a Friday recap of the COVID-19 news of the week — at least as much as we can capsule for you. Some of these stories you may have seen or heard. But some you will not have seen or heard.
Depending on its response, we may do this more often. Our world is complicated and therefore is difficult to cover in every way from every corner. No, we’re not as busy as we have been, (except for frontline healthcare workers) so many have been able to keep up with most of the Coronavirus news. But many have not. Let us know what you feel about this format at the end of a busy week.
COVID-19 Stories of the Week
(New York City) ***New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is bringing in more funeral directors as coronavirus deaths across the state hit a third-straight daily record with 799 fatalities on Wednesday. New York state is grappling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country with more than 151,000 confirmed cases across the state and 81,800 in New York City alone — almost as many as China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re in a battle, right, but this is about a war,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany on Thursday. “This virus is very, very good at what it does. We lost more lives yesterday than we have to date.”
(Battleship Nimitz) *** The Military’s second-highest-ranking officer on Thursday warned of a new coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier about to embark on a deployment to the Pacific as the military struggles to contain the spread of the virus that has already sidelined crewmembers from another carrier.
“There’s been a very small number of breakouts on the Nimitz, and we’re watching that very closely,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday about the 5,000-member crews. He said that those sailors have “been isolated on the ship.” Hyten pointed to the inherent problem of containing the spread of the virus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, aboard a ship in which many crewmembers share quarters, sometimes with as many as two dozen sleeping in bunks in one room. Not enough local hotel space exists in Bremerton, Washington, where the ship is based, for its commanders to quarantine crew members, so they’re attempting to isolate them on board, the general said.
(The United Kingdom) *** It has been announced that the United Kingdom’s Coronavirus lockdown has been extended indefinitely. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in the hospital but there are conflicting reports, some saying he is still in intensive care and others that he has been removed from intensive care. His temporary replacement, Dominic Raam said late Thursday it is too soon to relax mitigation rules that have kept Britts indoors, for now, three weeks. There are no plans to make any changes in those regulations until at least one week from today, Raam said.
(The White House) *** The White House will conduct coronavirus tests on all journalists slated to attend Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing as a precautionary measure, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced.
“This is happening today in light of the news yesterday that a member of the White House press corps who was at the White House on Tuesday is experienc[ing] symptoms consistent with coronavirus,” said the organization’s President Jonathan Karl, who emailed later to say that the journalist had tested negative for the virus but would self-isolate and take another test in a week out of an abundance of caution. The organization, along with the White House, has been incrementally stepping up security protocols as the outbreak has continued its swift spread throughout the country. Last month, the WHCA began to crack down on social distancing, issuing temporary restrictions on the number of journalists allowed in the briefing room each day, and even going as far as to expel one news organization for breaching those rules.
In the meantime, the White House has required journalists, like others entering the White House premises, to have their temperatures checked before stepping onto the property. The administration also began conducting temperature checks on journalists before they headed into any room with the president.
(U.S.Unemployment)*** A staggering 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs in just three weeks in a measure of how fast the coronavirus has brought world economies to their knees. Meanwhile, religious leaders around the globe Thursday urged people to celebrate Good Friday and Easter from the safety of their homes.
Numbers released Thursday by the U.S. government showed that 6.6 million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, on top of more than 10 million in the two weeks before that. That amounts to about 1 in 10 American workers — the biggest, fastest pileup of job losses since the world’s largest economy began keeping records in 1948. And still, more job cuts are expected. The U.S. unemployment rate in April could hit 15% — a number not seen since the end of the Great Depression.
(Baton Rouge, LA) *** Tony Spell, of the Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has refused to stop his services amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite the state’s public health ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. He was even arrested and charged with six misdemeanor counts of violating Gov. John Bel Edward’s orders.
Spell said: “They say everybody’s going to get it. … Then if everybody’s going to get it, let’s get on with life.”
The pastor, who also claims his services cure cancer and HIV, said no “dictator law” should keep people from worshipping God. But despite the law and outcry, Spell plans to host an Easter Sunday service that’s expected to draw more than 1,000 people, according to the news outlet.
On Palm Sunday, when Louisiana had at least 13,000 cases of the virus, with 477 deaths, Spell again held services. He told worshippers they had “nothing to fear but fear itself.”
“They would rather come to church and worship like free people than live like prisoners in their homes,” Spell told reporters.
Reuters reported that 26 buses were sent to worshippers to transport them to the Life Tabernacle Church, and according to a lawyer for Spell, everyone in the congregation, aside from immediate family, maintained a distance of six feet.
(Farmers) *** Farmers and food companies across the country are throttling back production as the virus creates chaos in the agricultural supply chain, erasing sales to restaurants, hotels, and cafeterias despite grocery stores rushing to restock shelves. American producers stuck with vast quantities of food they cannot sell are dumping milk, throwing out chicken-hatching eggs and rendering pork bellies into lard instead of bacon.
Farms are plowing under hundreds of acres of vegetables in prime U.S. growing regions like Arizona and Florida. Chicken companies are shrinking their flocks, to curb supplies that could weigh on prices for months to come.
Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms Inc., which last week said demand from its restaurant customers was down 60% to 65%, has begun breaking eggs rather than hatch them and raise the chicks for slaughter. Other poultry companies are taking similar steps, meat-industry officials said.
(Airlines) *** U.S. airlines are starting to look past the coronavirus peak, anticipating a world where travelers remain leery about returning to the skies and flights are drastically reduced in the normally robust summer travel season.
The bleak picture is compounding an already dire financial situation for the airlines, which are burning through cash and talking to the Treasury Department about grants. Newly revised federal rules will let the companies cut some routes by as much as 90% through September and eliminate others altogether to avoid flying nearly empty planes.
A carrier that served a city less than five times weekly would need to provide only one flight a week under final Transportation Department rules issued Tuesday on minimum domestic flying levels through Sept. 30. A company with more than 25 weekly flights would be able to scale back to only five. On some routes, the drop in service could be about 90%. With domestic flights less than 10% full because of the COVID-19 outbreak, carriers are eating through as much as $20 billion a month. And airlines aren’t betting on a swift rebound as they negotiate with the Treasury over $25 billion in cash assistance.
Mostly empty planes are allowing airlines to impose social-distancing on board by spacing out passengers to reduce the risk of infection — a practice that could help reassure people about the safety of flying, as long as vacant seats persist. Delta Air Lines Inc. joined its peers Wednesday in formalizing measures such as blocking middle seats and boarding only 10 customers at a time. Even assuming service rebounds to a certain extent during the summer, the new U.S. regulations would allow airlines to fly significantly less if they so choose. American could operate only one of its nine previously scheduled daily flights from LaGuardia to Chicago, depending on demand. Similar math applies to United and Delta.
Under the new regulations, airlines can consolidate their service to one airport in a metro area. They can also seek permission to end service to a city, with the affected destination given notice and a chance to object before the agency rules on the request.
(Oil Production) *** Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed in principle Thursday on a deal to carry out the biggest organized oil-production cuts in decades, after a month-long feud and a drop in demand due to the coronavirus crisis devastated oil prices.
Prices shot higher ahead of the announcement before abruptly losing momentum and reversing course. The benchmark U.S. crude price, for May delivery, ended 9.3% lower on the day at $22.76 a barrel.
Russia and Saudi Arabia hope the U.S. will join the production curbs. But their current plan foresees up to 4 million barrels a day of reduction coming from outside their alliance. But the Trump administration has refused so far to formally take part in any cuts. President Trump has said reductions will happen due to the coronavirus’s erosion of oil demand.
Mr. Trump said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Thursday. He said the three leaders had “a big talk” about oil production, adding that he wants to avoid layoffs in the oil industry both in the U.S. and abroad.
“We had a very good talk. We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference. He said he believed Russia and Saudi Arabia were close to a deal but didn’t elaborate. The president didn’t say whether the U.S. would call on American companies to make production cuts.
OPEC is expected to announce a finalized deal on Friday or Saturday, according to Mr. Trump. The Saudi and Russian leaders “were getting along very well” during the call, he added. He predicted that oil prices have already “hit bottom” and are “probably heading up.”
(Saudi Royal Family) *** Up to 150 members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family have contracted the coronavirus, a person close to the family reported.
Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulziz al Saud, the governor of Riyadh and a nephew of King Salman, was confirmed to have tested positive by two doctors, according to the Times. Many of the thousands of princes in the family are believed to have brought back the virus after traveling to Europe, the newspaper reported, citing doctors and people close to the family.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and many of his ministers are in isolation on the coast of the Red Sea, while the 84-year-old King Salman is also in isolation near the city of Jeddah, according to the newspaper.
The kingdom took numerous precautions in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus even before it officially reported its first case on March 2, including banning pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam that draw millions of worshipers annually, and placing its major cities under 24-hour lockdown.
“If it is reaching into the family, then it becomes an urgent issue,” Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a professor at Rice University who studies the kingdom stated.