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Shocking Expose Proves Thousands Of COVID-19 Deaths Have Gone Uncounted In The US: Live Updates
NY reports first drop in daily deaths since outbreak began
FT shows how US has become COVID-19s “epicenter”
NY hospitalizations drop
Italy follows New York with another promising drop in deaths
France also reports a drop in deaths
UK reports biggest jump in new cases as Queen speech about to air
2 Walmart workers die in store near Chicago
Louisiana warns it will run out of ventilators in five days
India bans export of Trump’s ‘miracle’ coronavirus drug
NYT exposes massive undercounting of COVID-19 deaths in the US
Tokyo reports yet another jump in new COVID-19 cases
Queen Elizabeth plans special televised address to Britain, only the 4th during her reign
Australia launches criminal probe into Carnival Cruises
COVID-19 deaths in Japan pass 100
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Update (1445ET):Two reporters from the New York Times purport to have found evidence that health officials, often at the local or county level, are dramatically undercounting coronavirus deaths in the US. Citing information and documents provided by “doctors, hospital officials, public health experts and medical examiners,” among others, the reporters claim that potentially thousands of deaths have gone uncounted, meaning the total is probably closer to 20k — or beyond — than the roughly 10k (9,180, per JHU) reported so far.
Unfortunately, since the patients have died, there will be few — if any — opportunities for these discrepancies to be rectified, if coronavirus isn’t listed as a cause of death, something that requires a positive test.
Given the shortage of tests around the US, living patients have typically been prioritized over the deceased, even as counting posthumous deaths is important in helping officials get the accurate data they need to fight the virus.
A lot of the most compelling anecdotes in the report came from coroners, and from families like this one, per the NYT:
As the coronavirus outbreak began sweeping across the country last month, Julio Ramirez, a 43-year-old salesman in San Gabriel, Calif., came home from a business trip and began feeling unwell, suffering from a fever, cough and body aches. By the next day, he had lost his sense of taste and smell.
His wife, Julie Murillo, took him to an urgent care clinic several days later, where he was so weak he had to be pushed in a wheelchair. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, a cough syrup and gave him a chest X-ray, but they did not test for the coronavirus, she said. Just over a week after he returned from his trip and not long after President Trump declared a national emergency over the outbreak, Ms. Murillo found him dead in his bed.
“I kept trying to get him tested from the beginning,” Ms. Murillo said in an interview. “They told me no.“ Frustrated, Ms. Murillo enlisted friends to call the C.D.C. on her behalf, asking for her husband to be tested for the coronavirus post-mortem. Then she hired a private company to conduct an autopsy; the owner pleaded for a coronavirus test from local and federal authorities.
On Saturday afternoon, Ms. Murillo received a call from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, she said. The health department had gone to the funeral home where her husband’s body was resting and taken a sample for a coronavirus test. He tested positive.
A spokesman for the health department did not respond to questions about Mr. Ramirez, and it was not clear whether any systematic post-mortem testing was being conducted beyond his case.
Even Johns Hopkins University agreed that deaths are almost certainly being undercounted: “We definitely think there are deaths that we have not accounted for,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. JHU has been tracking the virus from the beginning, maintaining an online database that has become one of the most trusted and widely-cited sources of data on deaths and cases by the press around the world.
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Update (1400ET): Some more encouraging news out of Europe: Like Italy before it, France reported an encouraging drop in deaths, with 357, lower than the count from the last two days. It raised the death toll to 8,078, but still qualified as a “significant” drop, according to the French Ministry of Health. France also reported 1,873 new cases of COVID-19, raising its total to 68,605 cases.
As the Queen prepared to deliver a historic speech, the UK reported a 5,903 new cases of the virus, a record increase for one day, bringing its total to 47,806, while another 621 deaths brought its death toll to 4,934. Daily testing rose to record 12,334.
In Ireland, 21 more people infected with the coronavirus have died, bringing the total number of deaths in Ireland to 158 . There have been 390 new cases reported Sunday, bringing its total to 4,994.
In a story that once again exposes the dangerous risks being taken by “essential” workers, many of whom are low-paid hourly employees who work retail, CNN reported Sunday that two workers at a Chicago-area Walmart store have died from the novel coronavirus, the company confirmed Sunday, the first deaths among Wal-Mart workers since the pandemic began. It once again highlights these risks, which have been exacerbated by the shortages in PPE that have made these products virtually inaccessible for store workers.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store, and we are mourning along with their families,” an emailed statement from the company reads. Walmart in its statement did not provide the workers’ names, ages or how long they had been with the company. It is also unclear exactly when the two workers passed away.
The two associates had not been in the Evergreen Park store “for more than a week,” the company said, but of course, there’s no way to guarantee that others weren’t exposed.
Finally, in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards Louisiana’s governor says state will probably run out of ventilators in 5 days.
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Update (1245ET): Another promising headline has just hit the tape: Italy just reported the lowest number of daily deaths in more than 2 weeks: 525 new deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, along with 4,316 new cases. That bring’s Italy’s death toll to 15,887, still the largest in Europe.
Italy remains on a strict lockdown, with the hard-hit Lombardy region over the weekend requiring citizens leaving their homes to shield their mouths and noses with masks or other coverings and insisting residents remain inside for all but essential activities, after seeing an increase in people venturing outside in defiance of the quarantine. Tuscany soon followed suit with similar rules.
Police have fined over 175,000 people since March 11 for violations of the lockdown, according to the Interior Ministry. As the country prepares for a fifth week of lockdown measures, opposition leader Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League called on the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to open churches for the coming Easter holiday. Measures to keep the country shut down have been extended through at least April 13, and Conte is expected to announce revised rules and time lines by the end of next week, according to reports in the Italian press.
Most importantly, this news will likely be met with cries of relief from struggling Italians, weary of their more than month long struggle with the virus, who are hoping this is evidence that they’re finally riding down the ‘back side’ of the curve.
Before we delve into our daily breakdown of some of the biggest coronavirus-related news from around the world, we’d like to highlight yet another grim milestone in COVID-19’s “conquest” (are we still allowed to use war metaphors or has that been declared un-PC?) of the US. While the outbreaks in Mexico and Canada have only produced about 16k cases between them, the total number of cases confirmed in the US has ballooned past 300k in the US (to 312,249 as of 11amET Sunday morning).
Now, here’s the FT, which detailed the shift in momentum from Asia, to Europe, to the US. It’s a little more complicated than look at only the overall totals and the current daily figures.
In a little over one month the daily number of Covid-19 cases globally has grown exponentially from 2,359 on March 1 to 101,503 on Saturday. At the beginning of March, Asia accounted for more than half of the total cases reported each day. This quickly shifted as outbreaks began in continental Europe, with Italy, Spain, Germany and France all reporting cases in the thousands. By mid-March, Europe was responsible for four in every five new confirmed cases each day. While Europe is still responsible for nearly 40 per cent of daily cases, the US has become the new centre of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country accounts for nearly one-third of all daily cases, with New York state particularly affected.
Here’s most of that, broken down into a chart:
All that said, with the US gearing up for what President Trump and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo expect to be the week where the outbreak peaks (in New York, at least), the Empire State has at least started off on the right foot.
New York reported 8,327 new cases of coronavirus and 594 new deaths on Sunday (compared with 630 a day ago), marking the state’s first drop in daily deaths since the outbreak began. In total, 122,031 cases have been confirmed in the state (roughly equivalent to the national totals of both Italy and Spain )and 4,159 deaths. While we’re certainly no epidemiologists, we suspect others might point to this as a small, but hopefully promising, hint that the ‘peak’ is near, or here.
And as we noted last night, hospitalizations in the state have shown another encouraging decline, even as many ICUs in NYC remain very close to, or at, capacity.
Cuomo is beginning his daily press briefing below:
The governor kicked off Sunday’s presser by thanking New York’s health-care workers, before adding that recent trends suggest that the state might have already arrived at its hoped-for plateau.
“You could argue that you are seeing a plateauing,” he told reporters in Albany. “Next week they will tell you whether we are on a plateau or is it just a blip,” he said, referring to statisticians. He noted that deaths had leveled off for three days following the dramatic increases seen for most of last week, which saw the state reporting close to 1k deaths a day for a few days there.
New hospitalizations dropped to 574 on Sunday from 1,095, Cuomo said, adding that 74% of those hospitalized have been discharged.
Being a pandemic with almost no precedent in modern times (other than the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918), traditions of culture and governance are being disrupted left and right (hell, we just cancelled the Olympics). In keeping with that trend, Queen Elizabeth will deliver a special televised address to Britain; it will be only the fourth time she has done so during her nearly 70-year reign. Excerpts from the address have already been released, and in them, the Queen acknowledges the suffering of hundreds of thousands of families around the country, while seeking to “lift their spirits” and “offer hope,” according to ABC News.
The 93-year-old monarch is expected to acknowledge the suffering that many families have experienced because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has infected more than 42,000 people in the U.K. and killed at least 4,313 of them. She will seek to lift spirits and offer hope to the country in its hour of need.
“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,’’ she said, according to excerpts released ahead of remarks that were being broadcast Sunday night. “A time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”
Elsewhere, Tokyo reported yet another record jump in daily cases, with 143 new coronavirus infections announced on Sunday, metropolitan government officials said. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19-related deaths finally surpassed 100 in Japan, Nikkei reports. In India, the government of Narendra Modi has banned the export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug widely touted by Trump for treating COVID-19. In Australia, prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Carnival Cruises as hundreds were sickened, dozens died on their ships.
There Are Still At Least A Half Dozen Cruise Ships With Passengers Out To Sea
You’d think the last place you’d want to be during the coronavirus pandemic is aboard a cruise ship — especially given one horror story after the next about ships being placed under quarantine, not being able to find a place to dock and passengers getting sick and coming down with the coronavirus.
Which is why it’s stunning to learn that there is still at least a half-dozen ships out at sea, with passengers and crew, navigating lengthy trips back to port, according to Bloomberg.
About a month ago, there were hundreds of ships still in service and dozens out to sea.
Recall, we covered the Diamond Princess cruise ship at length, a ship where 700 of its 3,000 passengers eventually tested positive for the coronavirus. Eight of those passengers wound up dying.
Around a month later, the Grand Princess cruise ship was struck with coronavirus — with 21 of its 3,533 passengers (2,422 gues and 1,111 crew) testing positive for the virus.The ship was held off the coast of San Francisco while testing was conducted.
Finally, just this past week, Carnival Corp’s MS Zaandam was forced to dock in Ft. Lauderdale after 193 people were sickened — more than 10% of the ship — and four passengers diedout of a total of 1,829 people on board.
Cruise companies have been forced to suspend operations, with companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean seeing their stocks get decimated over the last month. The President even requested that Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC cruises halt outbound travel for 30 days.
And while the number of ships at sea has dropped off dramatically, it still hasn’t gone to zero.
While more ships have returned to their respective ports, and many have been moved with just crew onboard, Carnival still has five ships with passengers aboard. MSC Cruises also has a ship with passengers that is out to sea. These ships were thousands of miles from their respective ports when operations were suspended and are in the midst of returning.
A new disturbing trend has emerged among Zoom conference calls called “zoombombing.”
Due to the coronavirus, colleges and businesses have had to relocate their classes and meetings onto online video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. According to the FBI, many Zoom video conference calls have been subjected to some form of hijack.
“The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
There have been several incidents of this happening in various college courses and meetings. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, a mandatory diversity workshop called I-connect was hijacked recently. An individual appeared in the Zoom call showing a swastika on their forehead. This led to a series of mass emails that were sent to students who attended these sessions.
“During these workshops, online participants engaged in patterns of disruptive behavior, which culminated in hateful interruptions by a number of individuals using racist and derogatory slurs, showing images of swastikas, and making threats of violence,” said one of the mass emails.
The school said that it would report the incident to the Office of Student Conflict, as well as the Bias Assessment Response Team.
“Any behavior deemed to be a legal violation will also be reported to the University of Illinois Police Department”UIUC added.
Incidents like this have occurred at other schools across the country. One notable instance happened during a Student Government meeting at the University of Florida. “BREAKING: the Senate livestream was just ‘zoom bombed,’ or crashed,” said University of Florida Student Government Reporter Chasity Maynard. “Multiple unknown people joined the meeting and wrote offensive comments, drew swastikas. The meeting ended abruptly after one person ‘mooned’ the camera.”
Maynard later issued a “correction,” saying that “the Zoom meeting ended after images of genitalia and sex acts were displayed on the screen, but the meeting was not officially called to a close.”
“Genitalia, naked butts and swastikas flashed across the screens of Student Government senators and guests tonight as they attempted to attend their weekly meeting over Zoom,“Maynard added.
Some UCLA lectures hosted via Zoom were subject to similar hijacks. According to the Daily Bruin, many classes at UCLA were interrupted by individuals yelling vulgar words or typing vulgar messages.
One student, Jessica Jackson, recorded the incident and posted it on her Twitter. Speaking to the Daily Bruin, Jackson said, “About five minutes into the lecture, someone was presenting as if they had a question, … and then finally, when the professor acknowledged the person, he just immediately jumped out with the N-word and was calling him that repeatedly.”
“Over time, I got my phone and started recording what was happening,”Jackson said.
“It just then spiraled out of control – chaos,”said Jackson.
Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”
Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.
The FBI also encourages those who were victims of these incidents to report them to the FBI.
”If you were a victim of a teleconference hijacking, or any cyber-crime for that matter, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov,” the FBI encourages online users.
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