89.1 WEMU

COVID-19

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is at the center of attention as the state and New York City have become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

And longtime observers say Cuomo's natural strengths: decisiveness, taking charge, listening to the experts and sticking to the facts — are playing well in a public health crisis.

"He's known as a hard-charging, take-no-prisoners kind of guy," says USA Today network reporter Jon Campbell, who has covered politics in Albany for nearly a decade.

Clean energy and climate advocates say the huge stimulus bill Congress is negotiating should address not only the economy, but also climate change. But a split over that appears to have contributed to delays in passing the bill.

"Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.

McConnell said Democrats were filibustering the $1 trillion-plus bill hoping to include policies such as extending tax credits for solar and wind energy.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to knock down a series of rumors and falsehoods that have been spreading along with the coronavirus pandemic.

It launched a page on its website called Coronavirus Rumor Control to fight the misinformation as officials work to assure the public there is, in fact, no "national quarantine," nor has FEMA deployed "military assets."

"No, FEMA does not have military assets," the site notes.

An Arizona man is dead and his wife was hospitalized after the couple ingested a form of chloroquine, a chemical that has been hailed recently by President Trump as a possible "game changer" in the fight against the novel coronavirus, according to the Phoenix hospital that treated the couple.

Banner Health hospital said in a statement that "the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks." The aquarium additive the couple ingested is not the same as the medication that has been used to treat malaria.

More than half a dozen states have pushed back presidential primaries because of the coronavirus outbreak. Wisconsin, which has a primary on April 7, hasn't. State leaders are holding on tightly to that date, despite Monday's stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tony Evers.

Evers urged voters to cast mail-in ballots, saying he and his wife have already done so.

"It's very easy," Evers said Monday. "If we can do it, you can do it."

People with disabilities are asking the federal government to stop what they say are policies by states and hospitals that will ration care — and deny them treatment for the coronavirus.

On Monday, several disability groups filed a complaint against the state of Washington, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic.

One of the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said she had a "little low-grade fever" over the weekend and stayed home from work that day.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, said she went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center late Saturday night and got tested. The test came back was negative.

"So actually [it was] probably a [gastrointestinal] thing," she said at a task force briefing with President Trump looking on. "But, you know, I'm meticulous. I'm a physician. I looked it up."

President Trump has drawn repeated comparisons between the novel coronavirus outbreak and the flu season.

"We have a lot of people dying from the flu on top of everything else," he said Monday. "It's very bad. It looks like it could be over 50,000."

The reality so far for the current flu season is still emerging. There have been at least 23,000 deaths from flu during the 2019-2020 season, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The upper range of the estimate for deaths is 59,000.

The Trump administration announced Monday that the federal government was making it much easier to collect samples to test people for the coronavirus.

A new "self swab" technique would enable people to collect their own samples, making the process much simple, quicker and possibly safer, officials said at a White House briefing.

A former oil supertanker that became the U.S. Navy's lead floating hospital set sail late Monday from its home port in San Diego. The white-hulled USNS Mercy's next stop: the Port of Los Angeles, where it is to help relieve the strain being put on that city's hospitals by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET

A family of old antimalarial drugs — including one that some patients rely on to treat their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — is becoming harder to get in the United States, pharmacists say, partly because of remarks President Trump has made, highlighting the drugs as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET

On Monday evening, President Trump stressed what he called the need to reopen America for business even as he said the government also would continue tackling the spiraling coronavirus pandemic.

The White House's team will make an assessment after next week as to how effective social distancing and other mitigation measures have been in stifling the spread of the virus, said Vice President Pence.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

A drive-through site to test for the coronavirus has been set up for golf carts at a massive retirement community in central Florida. More than 125,000 people live in The Villages, north of Orlando. Because the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was concerned about getting protections in place for the senior citizens who live there.

Canada is conducting a massive airlift, bringing thousands home at no cost in cooperation with Canada's commercial airlines. As domestic routes are cut back, repatriation flights are increasing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a live broadcast on Monday.

More than 8,100 members of the U.S. National Guard have been mobilized across the U.S. to help communities deal with the coronavirus. In some states, they're moving supplies and people. In California, they're working at food banks; in Arizona, some members are restocking shelves.

On Monday, NPR's Ailsa Chang interviewed Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. Here are two questions she posed to him, and his responses, which have been edited for length and clarity.

U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced sweeping new restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Brits must now stay home – with very few exceptions – or risk facing fines.

"No prime minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people's lives, to their businesses and to their jobs," Johnson said in a video posted on his Twitter account. "At present, there are just no easy options."

With the coronavirus outbreak blowing past the 300,000-case mark, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says world leaders and health officials won't be able to defeat COVID-19 if they rely only on defensive measures such as social distancing and requiring people to stay at home.

The coronavirus has now spread to nearly every country on the planet, the head of the World Health Organization said.

Like a fast-moving echo of the pandemic itself, music that confronts coronavirus is multiplying rapidly. A playlist created by Spotify "data alchemist" Glenn McDonald has been tracking songs about the ongoing pandemic, and the resulting daily chart is astounding. More than 400 songs have made the list since McDonald created it two weeks ago.

The State Department is urging Americans to return home now unless they are ready to ride out the coronavirus pandemic for "an undetermined period of time." Commercial travel is becoming more difficult, though, and thousands are stranded.

State Department officials, who briefed reporters in a conference call Monday and asked not to be named, said they have heard from 13,500 Americans in need of help around the world. Some are in remote areas and the department says there is no guarantee the U.S. can bring them home.

The small city of Barstow, Calif., sits in the remote Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It's rural, yet hardly isolated, at a major crossroads with a lot of people coming and going. An outbreak of the coronavirus could overwhelm its 30-bed hospital.

Churches across America have managed to get around bans on public gathering by moving their worship services online, but technology provides only partial solutions.

In addition to presiding at services, religious leaders are expected to provide counseling, lead prayer groups and minister personally to people with special needs. For many, that aspect of their work has never been more important, or more difficult, at a time when communities are struggling to contain the coronavirus.

Lisa Barry / WEMU

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order Monday morning to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  89.1 WEMU's Jorge Avellan tells us what that means for some local businesses in Washtenaw County.
 


City of Ann Arbor

With a new executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to "stay home and stay safe," Ann Arbor's top elected official says he echoes that sentiment.

WEMU’s Lisa Barry spoke with Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor to see what the "new normal" is looking like in that city.


General Motors says it's "exploring the feasibility" of building ventilators for the medical supply company Ventec Life Systems at a GM facility in Kokomo, Ind.

Health officials have warned of a dire ventilator shortage as the coronavirus spreads and the number of COVID-19 cases soars.

Updated 8:36 p.m. ET

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has endorsed a delay in the start of the 2020 games in Tokyo because of the spread of deadly coronavirus.

The U.S. committee released a statement saying it had polled athletes and concluded that "the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can't be overcome in a satisfactory manner."

As members of Congress continue to struggle to agree on terms for an emergency aid package aimed at addressing the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of national nonprofit groups is asking lawmakers to do more to help the nation's charities.

As the number of lawmakers who have tested positive for the coronavirus grows, prompting many of their colleagues to self-quarantine, some members are pushing to move to remote voting, which would break a longtime institutional tradition of voting in person.

The medical community is sounding increasingly urgent alarms about shortages of masks, gloves and ventilators — essential supplies in the fight against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, President Trump has issued contradictory statements about whether his administration is ordering private companies to ramp up production of those items.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic candidate for president, called for a far more urgent and better coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic from the White House, in his first remarks of a new effort to reach voters while the campaign is essentially on hold.

There's some hopeful news for the film industry coming from China.

As the number of new cases of the coronavirus declines in China, the Chinese government is allowing a few movie theaters to reopen for the first time since the country's theaters were shuttered by decree in January.

According to the entertainment news website Deadline, about 500 have reopened (less than 5% of Chinese exhibitors), mostly in Xinjiang and in far-flung provinces across the country.

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