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COVID-19

As COVID-19 spreads through Israeli and Palestinian communities, Israelis and Palestinians now have a common enemy to battle — and reason to lean on each other.

The coronavirus has infected more than 2,000 Israelis and killed at least eight, including a man who survived the Holocaust. In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it has infected more than 70 Palestinians and killed a Palestinian woman. At least nine Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are infected with the virus, too. Everyone is under increasingly stringent lockdowns.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons could begin sending home some of its oldest and most at-risk inmates as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, Attorney General Bill Barr said on Thursday.

Barr, who convened an unrelated press conference at a mostly empty Main Justice in Washington, addressed the Bureau of Prisons' handling of the pandemic in response to a reporter's question.

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

China will close its borders to foreigners starting on Saturday, March 28, in a dramatic step to try to stop the coronavirus coming in from abroad.

The move is the latest in a string of tough steps by the Chinese government to combat the virus, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year and has spread widely since.

Over a thousand people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, and over a third of those deaths have taken place in New York. Nearly half the confirmed cases in the United States are in New York.

The U.S. Senate's $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes more than $30 billion for education, with more than $14 billion for colleges and universities and at least $13.5 billion for the nation's K-12 schools.

In a first for Europe, 20 critically ill coronavirus patients were evacuated aboard a fully medicalized, high-speed train.

The patients were transferred from the hard-hit eastern region of France, where hospitals are operating at overcapacity, to the western Loire Valley, where facilities still have plenty of beds.

Keep The Hand Sanitizer Away From The Kids

Mar 26, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said hand sanitizer-related exposures are up more than 80%, compared with this time last year, at poison control centers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the state's two largest cities.

Pittsburgh's center reports that 75% of hand sanitizer-related calls involve children, the majority age 5 or younger.

"They almost always are either intentionally or accidentally drinking it," said Dr. Michael Lynch, the center's director. "Or [it's] potentially in the eyes and causing burning."

Updated 2:46 p.m. ET

Louisiana has emerged as a hot spot for the spread of coronavirus, with nearly 2,305 cases of COVID-19 and 83 reported deaths.

"Our rate of growth is faster than any state in the country," Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a televised address this week.

He warns the crisis has overwhelmed Louisiana's ability to combat the spread of the disease, and care for the sick. And in contrast to neighboring states, Louisiana is imposing tight restrictions on movement and economic activity.

With a fraction of the hospital beds and ventilators per capita of developed countries, Indian doctors and public health experts warn an explosion of coronavirus cases could overwhelm their hospitals on a greater scale than what's happening in Italy and the United States — and lead to many millions of deaths.

Concerns over the coronavirus have shuttered public and school libraries around the world, depriving their regular patrons of free access to the Internet, shelter and, of course, books — just when many of them could use them the most.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Three weeks ago, Washington, D.C., resident Rebecca Read Medrano started feeling unwell. She had a dry cough, fatigue, nausea and terrible stomach pains that had her bending over.

There was one more symptom, and it was a bit odd. Medrano had largely lost her sense of taste. "My cousin was cooking, and everything he made tasted weird," she recalls.

The coronavirus has infected more than 450,000 people worldwide, and now cybersecurity experts are warning the pandemic could take a toll on computer systems, as well.

Many companies that usually handle sensitive information in their offices are now telling employees to work from home. And that can make them more vulnerable to hackers — especially if workers browse certain websites they wouldn't visit when the boss is watching.

In other words, porn.

Michigan Theater
Junfu Han / Michigan Theater Facebook

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many industries worldwide, and the movie business is no exception.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair and Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins discuss how movie theaters, especially those found in Ann Arbor, are adapting to this difficult situation.


Phillis Engelbert

In the first installment of a new feature series, entitled "WEMU Reaches Out: COVID-19 Conversations," Barbara Lucas catches up with Ann Arbor restauranteur Phillis Engelbert.  She owns Detroit Street Filling Station and the Lunch Room and is doing all she can to keep the businesses open, pay and insure staff and help customers in need. 


Beth Bashert
Beth Bashert

While we adapt to life in a coronavirus crisis, staying engaged and serving others as best we can is of crucial importance.  The Mayor of Ypsilanti is spending some of her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" time reaching out to the community's senior citizens.  Seniors are most at risk in this crisis and are more likely to be disconnected from electronic communication.  Beth Bashert joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss her outreach efforts, community observations during shutdown, and explain current and future city operations. 


For the past 16 months, Angelo Mike has been living in his beige Toyota Camry in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. It's difficult for obvious reasons: no bed, no kitchen, no bathroom. But, Mike says, structure and organization make it manageable.

Until recently, his daily routine involved waking up by 6:00 a.m. most mornings and heading to a nearby gym. There he'd exercise and shower. If he didn't need to be on set — Mike works as a crew member on movie sets — he'd head to the library after the gym to work on his laptop and search for new gigs.

Eastern Michigan University

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many Eastern Michigan University students are turning to the school’s on-campus food pantry for assistance.


Census 2020

Washtenaw County officials say the 2020 census is still moving along pretty much as planned, despite the coronavirus pandemic.


Nurses and midwives in Australia say they've had to take extraordinary measures to stop people from stealing personal protective equipment, such as sanitizer and masks, and that some of them have even become targets of violence.

In a statement on its website, the New South Wales Nurses & Midwives' Association issued a plea to the community as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country exceeded 2,800, with eight deaths, as of Thursday morning.

Toilet tissue isn't the only paper product that Americans are hoarding these days. Paper money is also in high demand.

Banks are seeing more cash withdrawals as nervous customers try to protect themselves from the uncertainty of the coronavirus clampdown.

The coronavirus crisis was gaining steam when President Trump announced via tweet on a Friday night that he was replacing his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, with North Carolina congressman and frequent confidante Mark Meadows.

Nearly three weeks later, Meadows is still transitioning into his new job and hasn't yet resigned from Congress.

He may have been inside the room at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday for White House negotiations with senators on the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package — but he still had one foot back in his old job.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

Senate leaders have unanimously passed a historic $2 trillion deal to provide economic relief for Americans, businesses and the health care industry in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Despite urgent pleas from governors and mayors across the country, Defense Secretary Mark Esper cautioned on Wednesday that the U.S. military is not positioned to deploy nearly enough medical resources to address the scale of the coronavirus outbreak. And warning that the pandemic will "inevitably" alter the global strategic balance, he said the virus cannot be allowed to overtake national security as the Pentagon's top priority.

Ypsilanti Community Schools
Ypsilanti Community Schools / ycschools.us

School districts across the state of Michigan have closed their doors indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yet, a number of students are now at a disadvantage, especially those who rely on their schools for food and internet access.  So, Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) stepped up to help these kids out.  In this week's "On the Ground-Ypsi," WEMU's Patrick Campion and Concentrate Media's Sarah Rigg talk to YCS assistant superintendent Dr. Carlos Lopez about how the district is serving the community during this crisis.


As countries close borders and flights are canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department says as many as 50,000 Americans are seeking help to return home.

Peru has been particularly complicated, according to Ian Brownlee, who runs the State Department's repatriation task force. "There were some [COVID-19] infections in the civil aviation authority and on the civilian side of the airport, and they're trying to run it on a bit of a shoestring from the military side of the airport," he said.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, warned on Wednesday about the long-lasting and personal implications about spreading a virus with a story from her own family.

Birx said she remembered the guilt borne by her grandmother, whom she said caught the flu as a child during the 1918 pandemic, known by many Americans as the "Spanish flu," and then passed the disease along to her family.

Updated at 1:50 a.m. ET Thursday

The White House's pandemic task force convened another briefing on Wednesday afternoon amid a tense denouement for legislation aimed at helping an economy poleaxed by the disaster.

Last-minute objections on Wednesday delayed the Senate vote until late in the evening, when it passed on a vote of 96 to 0.

California has reached a deal with several financial institutions, including four of the country's five largest banks, to provide relief to homeowners affected by the coronavirus by suspending foreclosures and delaying mortgage payments, the governor announced Wednesday.

The news comes as unemployment claims in the state are soaring.

More than one million residents have filed for unemployment insurance since March 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom says, as workers continue to struggle with job losses and reduced hours, as the state looks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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