89.1 WEMU

COVID-19

Hospitals and medical workers across the country are issuing desperate pleas for donations of respirators, to protect the doctors and nurses who are exposed to the coronavirus as they fight to save lives. The country faces an alarming shortage of the protective equipment.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Monday that schools in Virginia will be closed for the foreseeable future as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

"Today I'm directing all schools in Virginia to remain closed at least through the end of this academic year," Northam said during an afternoon press conference.

Northam added that he is issuing an executive order effective at midnight Tuesday, placing additional restrictions on businesses that serve the public.

New York state has confirmed 20,875 cases of the coronavirus — a jump of 5,700 cases that Gov. Andrew Cuomo says is because of his state's aggressive approach to testing. New York can now conduct more than 16,000 tests a day, the governor said.

As he announced those sobering numbers, Cuomo reiterated that New York, the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, needs to sharply increase hospitals' capacity to treat patients. The governor escalated that call Monday, saying his office is issuing an emergency order to require all hospitals in the state to increase their capacity.

The first two cases of coronavirus infection in the Gaza Strip, a war-shattered territory with a fragile health system, were confirmed over the weekend in Palestinian men who attended a mass religious gathering 10 days ago in Pakistan, according to an Islamabad-based Palestinian diplomat.

Updated at 7:20 a.m. ET

After a tense day on the Senate floor that included leaders trading barbs over who is to blame for failing to advance a new coronavirus response bill, the top Senate Democrat said late Monday night that he was "very, very close" to an agreement with the White House on a deal for a third wave of emergency funding that could go well past $1 trillion.

The vast majority of states have closed public schools in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and many districts are now faced with a dilemma: how to provide remote learning to students without running afoul of civil rights and disability laws.

"I want America to understand this week it's going to get bad," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Monday morning, speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to stop the coronavirus from infecting more people in the U.S.

Adams also urged people to stay home to prevent the respiratory virus from spreading — and he said too many people in New York and other states are ignoring guidance to observe social distancing and avoid close contacts with others.

Susan Cerniglia
Washtenaw County Health Department / washtenaw.org

The COVID-19 crisis continues, and this past weekend, Washtenaw County experienced its first fatality from the illness.  Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson Susan Cerniglia  joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the the changing landscape of dealing with a growing outbreak. 

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and other U.S. stock indexes fell again Monday as central bankers and lawmakers struggled to deal with the coronavirus pandemic's economic damage.

The Dow closed the day down 582 points, or 3%. The S&P 500 index fell 2.9% and the Nasdaq slipped about 0.3%. The Dow has plunged 37% from its February high.

The Federal Reserve says it will buy bonds and mortgage-backed securities "in the amounts needed" to keep markets working smoothly, unveiling a plan that also includes measures to make sure credit is available to businesses and consumers.

Pam Smith
United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many non-profits, businesses, and residents are under serious financial strain.  The United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) decided to start a fund drive to help those in need.  UWWC President/CEO Pam Smith joined WEMU's David Fair for a conversation about the initiative in this week's installment of "Washtenaw United."


In his Sunday news briefing on the coronavirus response, President Trump was asked about the Defense Production Act, which the government can use to spur businesses to create needed supplies.

"The fact that I signed it, it's in effect," he said. "But you know, we're a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela, ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well."

The Cold War-era law doesn't nationalize businesses.

Jerry Clayton
Michigan Sheriffs' Association / misheriff.org

Like all businesses and services across the nation, law enforcement has had to make serious changes during the coronavirus outbreak.  Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton spoke with WEMU's David Fair about how the county is now being policed during this difficult time.


EMU Nursing Graduate From Muskegon Stuck In Peru

Mar 23, 2020
Eastern Michigan University
Brandon Bartoszek / flickr.com

An Eastern Michigan University graduate is stuck out of the country and in quarantine amid the global coronavirus pandemic.  As Daniel Boothe reports, a Muskegon woman is begging for help in bringing her 23-year-old son home from Peru.


Online Class
PxFuel / pxfuel.com

Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues to issue emergency orders that close public places in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus

The governor closed schools for three weeks with the expectation that they would re-open April 6th.  That order can be extended and that now appears likely.

That leaves students, families, administrators, and teachers in limbo.  And they’re wondering how to ensure students are getting the education they deserve under this new reality.

We have more from Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta. 


Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally conceded that the COVID-19 epidemic might force the postponement of this summer's Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start four months from now.

Speaking before Parliament, Abe reacted to a Sunday statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said that over the next four weeks it would consider alternative scenarios for the Games, including postponement, but not cancellation.

COVID-19
Military Health / health.mil

The first fatality from the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been reported in Washtenaw County.  We get details from 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry.


As the Coronavirus spreads across the nation, it has exposed potentially dire health care conditions in some prisons and jails. That's forced many to change the way they operate.

Some two dozen residents and six staff members have tested positive for novel coronavirus at a nursing home north of Seattle, according to local reports.

As Senate Republicans try to push through a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, they are doing so without a handful of votes in the closely divided chamber: Sens. Rand Paul, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee.

Mexico's health officials say it's time to keep your distance. Beginning Monday, people will be urged to maintain safe distances from one another and, if possible, work from home. Public schools, which were open through Friday, will remain closed until at least April 20.

As of Saturday night, Mexico's Secretary of Health reported 251 confirmed cases and two deaths from the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Some state and cities have already imposed stricter measures. On Sunday, Mexico City's mayor announced that bars, theaters and museums would be closed, also beginning Monday.

Can a single day of "encouraged" social distancing save a country of 1.3 billion people from the coronavirus?

That's at least what Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees as the first step in combating the virus in India.

On Sunday, millions across India self-quarantined themselves in their homes after Modi appealed to citizens to observe March 22 as "Janta curfew," or a voluntary "public curfew" day, to demonstrate support both for social distancing and the nation's medical community.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has put herself under self-quarantine after learning that her doctor who had vaccinated her against pneumonia on Friday has tested positive for COVID-19.

Merkel will be tested regularly in the coming days as she plans to carry out her duties from home, and Germany's government will continue to operate as planned, with Merkel's cabinet set to meet Monday to discuss a stimulus package of roughly $160 billion to help keep Germany afloat as it suffers from the pandemic.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

In a wide-ranging, digressive news conference Sunday evening, President Trump said he has activated the National Guard to assist New York, California and Washington, states that so far have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.

Facing a rapid increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state is ready for the Army Corps of Engineers to start building temporary hospitals in the state immediately.

Cuomo said he had toured and formally approved four sites in the state, including the Javits Center in Manhattan and others in Westchester County and Long Island.

"Time matters, minutes count," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany on Sunday. "From my perspective, construction can start tomorrow."

President Trump said auto executives are being given the "go ahead" to make ventilators and other metal products to help combat the shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's unclear what other "metal" products Trump was referring to.

It's Monday, March 16, there are about 4,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. I head to work, attend meetings. My daughter's school is closed for two weeks.

Updated at 7:39 p.m. ET

The future of a coronavirus aid package that's likely to top $1 trillion is in limbo following the failure of a necessary procedural vote in the Senate.

The measure, which required 60 votes to pass, garnered just 47 votes on Sunday evening, with Democrats refusing to back the Republican-led plan. Democrats are calling for changes to the legislation, including further expansion of unemployment insurance and more restrictions on federal assistance provided to large corporations.

People age 50 and older are around 2-and-a-half times more likely to progress to a severe case of COVID-19. That's according to a new study that quantifies the risk factors that increase the odds that people infected with the coronavirus will develop a severe case of the disease.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has become the first senator to test positive for the coronavirus. His staff says he is asymptomatic.

In a statement released on Sunday, Paul's deputy chief of staff, Sergio Gor, wrote:

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