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UK coronavirus death toll under 20,000 would be ‘good result’, says health chief

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom will do well if it manages to keep the coronavirus death toll below 20,000, a senior health official said on Saturday after the deadliest day so far of the outbreak saw the number of fatalities rise to more than 1,000.

Stephen Powis, the medical director of National Health Service England, warned the public against complacency and said everyone had to play their part in hindering the spread of the virus.

The number of confirmed cases stood at 17,089 on Saturday morning. The death toll rose by 260 in a day to 1,019, the seventh highest toll in the world behind Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States.

When asked if Britain was on the same trajectory as Italy, where the death toll has passed 9,000, Powis said that if the public adhered to the nationwide lockdown the total toll could be kept below 20,000.

“If it is less than 20,000… that would be a good result though every death is a tragedy, but we should not be complacent about that,” he said at a news conference in Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first leader of a major power to announce a positive test result for coronavirus on Friday. He is self-isolating in Downing Street but still leading the UK response to the crisis.

Britain is bracing for the epidemic to peak in the coming weeks, and is building field hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff to bolster its state-run National Health Service (NHS).

The government, which had been criticized by some doctors and nurses for not providing them with enough protective gear and testing kits, said on Friday it was introducing a much bigger testing regime, with checks for health workers in England.

Frontline medical staff in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are already being tested.

Women are seen wearing protective face masks as they walk on Clapham High Street as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

CORONAVIRUS IN GOVERNMENT

As the British government urged the public to stay indoors, the virus struck at Downing Street itself. Besides Johnson, health minister Matt Hancock has also tested positive and chief medical adviser Chris Whitty is self-isolating with symptoms.

The minister for Scotland, Alister Jack, said on Saturday he had developed a temperature and a cough in the past 24 hours and was now working from home in isolation. He has not been tested for coronavirus.

Jack spoke in the House of Commons on Wednesday, immediately before Johnson appeared at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session, during which Jack was seated on the government bench behind Johnson.

Efforts were under way to keep building up the NHS’s ability to cope.

Hospitals have been rushing to increase intensive care capacity, including by turning operating theaters and recovery areas into beds for critically ill patients.

“At the moment, I am confident the capacity is there,” Powis said. “We have not reached capacity.”

Slideshow (3 Images)

A drive-through coronavirus testing facility for health workers has begun operating in the car park of the Chessington World of Adventures theme park near London.

Health workers, who remain in their cars, are tested by nurses who carry out swabs in the nose and mouth through the windows.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, Paul Sandle and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood and Frances Kerry

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As Congress Passes Historic Relief Bill, Pelosi Already Undermining Its Importance

News

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already looking for the next bill to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic after Congress passed a $2 trillion package Friday to help American families.

“The legislation that we passed today is a very big down payment, but we have much more to do,” the California Democrat told MSNBC’s Rachel Madow Friday.

“When they talk about this as $2 trillion and all that it does for America’s workers and families, it’s the least we could do. And we have much more to do.”

Pelosi’s comments echoed statements she made on the House floor Friday.

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“We know that this cannot be our final bill,” she said, according to USA Today.

The $2 trillion bill package signed Friday has many glaring omissions that must be rectified, according to Pelosi, including expanding which workers qualify for unpaid, job-protected leave, free health care services for coronavirus patients and more funding for hospitals and health centers.

The House Speaker said that House Democrats will be working remotely as Congress works to address a “recovery stage.”

“Next we will move to recovery, and hopefully that will be soon,” she said.

Do you think more legislation is needed to help the economy?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will provide $1,200 payments to most American adults, along with $500 per child.

“I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together, setting aside their differences, and putting America first,” President Donald Trump said before signing the bill on Friday afternoon.

The CARES Act also provides for enhanced unemployment benefits for four months, matching 100 percent of workers’ salaries prior to losing their jobs.

Additionally, the legislation provides $350 billion in small business loans for companies with 500 employees or fewer.

“Any portion of that loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage and existing debt could be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June,” NPR reported.

RELATED: Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill into Law, Snubs Pelosi

The CARES Act also includes about $500 billion in loans and grants to major corporations.

Both the House and the Senate are currently away from Washington, but Senate Majority Leader said that he might be required to call the Senate back before the April 20 return date for additional legislation, according to The Hill.

“If circumstances require the Senate to return for a vote sooner than April 20, we will provide at least 24 hours notice,” he said. “Let’s stay connected and continue to collaborate on the best ways to keep helping our states and our country through this pandemic.”

As of late Saturday morning, there were over 640,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, over 112,000 of those in the United States, according to information from Johns Hopkins.

The total number of worldwide deaths from the disease was approaching 30,000, while nearly five times that many were considered to have recovered.

The Trump administration issued guidelines on March 16 intended to slow the spread of coronavirus, but the 15-day time frame of those guidelines expires at the end of the month.

Additional guidelines are expected from the Trump administration soon, which will be based on the level of risk in each American county.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Trump floats New York lockdown to contain virus; governor says idea is ‘anti-American’

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Saturday he might prohibit travel in and out of the New York area to limit the spread of the coronavirus from its U.S. epicenter, but the state’s governor dubbed the idea “anti-American” and said he would not cooperate.

As the U.S. death count crossed 2,000, doubling in three days, Trump said he might impose a quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut to protect other states that have yet to bear the brunt.

“They’re having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers are going down. We don’t want that,” Trump told reporters.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said a travel ban would cause chaos.

“If you started walling off areas all across the country it would be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American,” he said on CNN. “It makes absolutely no sense and I don’t think any serious governmental personality or professional would support it.”

Since the virus first appeared in the United States in late January, Trump has vacillated between playing down the risks of infection and urging Americans to take steps to slow its spread.

The United States now has more than 120,000 confirmed cases, the highest figure in the world.

Trump has also been reluctant to invoke emergency powers to order U.S. companies to produce much-needed medical supplies, despite the pleas of governors and hospital workers.

On Saturday, he appeared to soften his previous comments calling for the U.S. economy to be reopened by mid-April. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.

It was not clear whether Trump would be able to block road, air and sea travel out of a region that serves as the economic engine of the eastern United States, accounting for 10 percent of the population and 12 percent of GDP.

Some states have already imposed limits. New Yorkers arriving in Florida and Rhode Island face orders to self-isolate if they intend to stay, and the governors of Pennsylvania and West Virginia have asked visiting New Yorkers to voluntarily self-quarantine.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu on Saturday asked all visitors to his state who don’t come for work reasons to voluntarily self-quarantine.

New coronavirus cases in China leveled off after the government imposed a strict lockdown of Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease.

The body count continues to climb in Italy, where authorities have blocked travel across the country and prevented people from leaving their houses for all but essential reasons.

The number of cases in the United States eclipsed those of China and Italy on Thursday.

Click here for a GRAPHIC on U.S. coronavirus cases

TOO LATE FOR A LOCKDOWN?

Trump said any New York-area lockdown would only apply to people leaving the region. It would not cover truckers making deliveries or driving through the area, he said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives to accept 250,000 face masks donated to health workers of New York City by the United Nations to help with the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, U.S., March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

U.S. law gives the president the authority to restrict travel between states, legal experts said. But he would not be able to enlist local police to set up checkpoints along state lines, and it would be difficult to determine who would be allowed to get through, said Louisiana State University law professor Edward Richards.

“The logistics of deciding who is an essential person or essential cargo could shut down the ability to transport essential personnel and supplies,” he said.

Even if it were possible, a New York-area lockdown might come too late for the rest of the country.

The number of coronavirus patients in California hospitals increased by more than one-third overnight, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Officials in Louisiana, where Mardi Gras celebrations late last month in New Orleans fueled an outbreak, reported 17 additional deaths and 569 new cases on Saturday.

The disease has proven most fatal among the elderly, but Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Saturday that an infant had died in his state.

American healthcare workers are appealing for more protective gear and equipment as they face a surge of patients.

Doctors are also especially concerned about a shortage of ventilators, breathing machines needed for those suffering from COVID-19, the pneumonia-like respiratory ailment caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus.

Hospitals have also sounded the alarm about scarcities of drugs, oxygen tanks and trained staff.

On Saturday, nurses protested outside the Jacobi Medical Center in New York, saying supervisors asked them to reuse their masks, putting their own health at risk.

Slideshow (7 Images)

One medical trainee at New York Presbyterian Hospital said they were given just one mask.

“It’s not the people who are making these decisions that go into the patients’ rooms,” said the trainee, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Click here for a GRAPHIC tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus

Additional reporting by Maria Caspani, Jonathan Stempel, and Gabriella Borter in New York; Joel Schectman, Andy Sullivan and Michelle Price in Washington; and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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Four Big Questions About the $2 Trillion Relief Deal

Public health: Where are the tests?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer laid down an early marker that they wouldn’t support a bill without “a Marshall Plan to rebuild our health care infrastructure on a continental scale and ensure the resources are there to test and treat everyone who needs it.” There is about $180 billion in health-related spending in the CARES Act, including $100 billion to help overstretched hospitals, which was more than twice as much as Republicans proposed.

But other than a $1 billion provision that could be used on diagnostic tests if President Trump invokes the Defense Production Act to manufacture them, it doesn’t appear to do much to accelerate the kind of all-out COVID-19 testing and follow-up that helped South Korea control the virus. America is still lagging on testing, and this bill won’t fix that.

This is odd, because controlling the virus itself is by any accounting the most urgent priority not only for saving lives but for saving the economy. Even if Trump tells the nation to go back to work after Easter, restaurants and gyms and movie theaters can’t thrive until it’s safe to cluster in large groups without a serious risk of contracting a deadly disease. And it’s hard to see how that can happen before the U.S. adopts some version of Korea’s SWAT-team public health model of expansive testing, aggressive tracking, isolation and quarantine for infected individuals, and equally aggressive efforts to test, isolate and quarantine anyone they might have been near.

Former Maryland health commissioner Joshua Sharfstein says helping hospitals handle the coming surge of coronavirus victims will be necessary but not sufficient to fight the pandemic. “This is a public health crisis as well as a medical crisis,” says Sharfstein, who also served as deputy director of Obama’s FDA and is now a dean for public health at Johns Hopkins. “We need to stand up a massive public health response if we’re going to get this under control.”

Pelosi and Schumer have been boasting about their victories for health spending in the CARES Act—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has crowed about them, too—but the bill will not ensure tests for anyone who needs them or launch a systemic approach to prevent the virus from spreading. Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote a Medium essay Thursday calling on Congress to pass additional legislation that would dramatically increase America’s diagnostic testing capacity, but now the Senate has recessed until April 20. The only way for Washington to address this problem before then would be for Trump to address it himself—and he claims Americans can already get tested whenever they want.

If the first requirement of opening up the economy is way more testing, where’s that money supposed to come from? The bill leaves us hanging.

Aid to families: Was it worth it?

Democratic leaders flexed their negotiating muscles to strengthen the emergency safety net and make sure families in need got a fair share of government aid. Their biggest get was what Schumer called “unemployment on steroids,” a $260 billion provision to expand and extend jobless benefits during the pandemic.

They also secured $150 billion in aid to states, to minimize layoffs of government employees and cuts in government services. And they succeeded in rewriting the original Republican plan to send checks to taxpayers, so that poorer families will now get more instead of less, and the richest families will get nothing.

All these provisions will direct cash to people in need, and Trump is already bragging about them, pointing out in his Friday press conference that “the average worker who has lost his job will receive 100 percent of his salary for up to four months,” a provision Democrats added to his bill.

Given that Democrats had the power to insist on just about anything they wanted as a condition of passing the relief bill through the House, it’s worth asking whether aid to families hurt by the crisis was the concession they should have focused on extracting. A coronavirus bill stiffing the millions of Americans who are losing their jobs would have been a political disaster for Trump, and Republicans knew it.

House Democrats did make more ambitious demands in their alternative bill, like an assurance of vote-by-mail and 15 days of early voting in all federal elections, along with $4 billion to help safeguard the 2020 election. They ended up settling for no assurances and just $400 million. They also proposed language assuring that during future downturns the federal government would automatically pump stimulus into the economy. Republicans rejected that as well, so they can once again become anti-stimulus warriors during Democratic administrations.

But the Democrats did hold firm on directing aid in Trump’s relief bill to more vulnerable people—people who may well end up grateful to Trump. It may have been responsible policy, but it wasn’t exactly savvy politics. It’s notable that while Republicans acquiesced to Democratic demands for more aid for poor Americans, they refused to allow checks to go to taxpayers who aren’t citizens—and aren’t voters. They know that most Americans don’t follow which party supported which provisions; they tend to focus on the results and give the president the credit or the blame.

In fact, during the negotiations, even as Republicans were pushing perks for big business and opposing Democratic efforts to shift aid to ordinary families, Trump was chastising Democrats for refusing to focus on ordinary families, accusing them of trying to exploit the crisis to pass Green New Deal-style energy provisions that weren’t even in the House bill.

Small Business: Will this work?

The CARE Act’s small business bailout is truly bipartisan, a creative proposal drafted by the leaders of the congressional small business committees, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) along with Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). It would provide federal guarantees for bank loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, then forgive the portions of the loans spent on payroll, rent, mortgages and utilities. This would provide an incentive for stores and spas and suppliers to keep paying their employees throughout the lockdown even if they can’t open their doors to any customers.

Some Democrats have attacked an exception to the 500-employee limit for big hotel and restaurant chains as a stealth bailout for the Trump family, which is expressly barred from the big business bailout. But even if that happened, the bulk of the aid would presumably be directed to help employees of Trump’s resorts keep their jobs. Other critics have complained that the program’s loan forgiveness only applies for two months, and that $366 billion will not be nearly enough to get millions of struggling small firms through the crisis. But if the program works, Congress can always extend it and throw more money at it.

The real question is whether the program will work. It’s not clear whether the Small Business Administration’s modest bureaucracy can get it going fast enough to save firms from the brink, or administer 13 times its annual deal flow in just two months with any effectiveness. Its track record administering emergency loans, in fact, has at times been shockingly bad.

“Good idea, might be a mess,” summarizes one former Federal Reserve official.

Big Business: What the hell is this?

Republicans won two gargantuan victories for big businesses in the CARES Act: a $500 billion bailout fund and $280 billion worth of business tax cuts. Democrats insisted on some oversight provisions, including a new independent watchdog to oversee the money, but Trump issued a signing statement on Friday declaring he will not allow that special inspector general to issue reports without “presidential supervision.”

Democrats also imposed conditions on bailed-out corporations—like requirements that they keep most of their workers, limit executive pay and stop paying dividends—but it’s not clear how some of them will work, and which ones Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be allowed to waive.

Honestly, it’s hard to tell how a lot of the bailout fund will work. There are fairly clear guidelines for Treasury to spend $29 billion on loan guarantees or other aid for passenger and cargo airlines. The same rules seem to apply to $17 billion for businesses “critical to national security,” which observers originally assumed was a legislative euphemism for Boeing, but judging from Trump’s recent rhetoric, could apply to the oil industry as well.

But the biggest questions are swirling around the other $454 billion provision that seems to authorize a circuitous Rube Goldberg-style corporate bailout, where Treasury will backstop the Federal Reserve to inject liquidity into financial markets that will ultimately support medium-to-large-sized businesses. The language is very confusing. But at a moment when the Fed is already rerunning much of its playbook from the 2008 financial crisis, using its role as a lender of last resort to keep credit flowing, the CARES Act seems to encourage the Fed to take very un-Fed-like new risks in very un-Fed-like ways.

“This looks like totally uncharted territory,” says an official at one Wall Street bank.

Mnuchin and Fed chairman Jay Powell have some discretion to design the programs, but it seems likely that some of the $454 billion would backstop Fed credit facilities to buy investment-grade corporate bonds, and perhaps lower-rated bonds from less creditworthy corporations. In the past, the Fed has pumped about $10 into the economy for every $1 backing its programs, so the $454 billion could conceivably inject $4.5 trillion worth of liquidity.

But if these bonds are more likely to default, the money might not stretch as far as Congress hopes. And the legislation also suggests that the Fed could also start buying individual bank loans to companies, a major departure into new realms of risk. At the same time, the legislation suggests that mid-sized borrowers would not have to pay any principal or interest on the loans for at least six months, as long as they keep 90 percent of their employees on the payroll.

The Fed is not usually in the business of buying loans where borrowers don’t have to make payments but do have to maintain their payrolls even if they aren’t making any money. It’s a worthy goal to help companies that were solvent before the pandemic muddle through until the pandemic is over, and the Fed’s massive loans to AIG during the financial crisis—which were ultimately paid back with interest—showed that central banks sometimes need to take big risks to defuse big crises. But since defusing this crisis will ultimately depend on containing the virus, not restoring confidence to the financial markets, the Fed might be putting its financial credibility on the line for a problem it can’t solve.

Or maybe not. One can imagine Treasury and the Fed using the $454 billion in a relatively conservative way, backstopping relatively safe municipal and corporate bonds. That would reduce the initial risk of default, but might not provide much help to the most desperate precincts of Corporate America, which could create a wave of bankruptcies and deepen the crisis. One can also imagine a more aggressive approach, in which the Fed went on a loan-buying spree without much concern for the riskiness of the loans, which could burn through even $454 billion in a hurry.
For now, though, it’s all imagination, because nobody seems sure what happens next.

“I don’t really get it,” said an aide to one Democratic senator. “I hope someone gets it.”

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Trump says he’s eyeing quarantine of New York, surrounding area

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he had a “very productive” conversation with Trump on Friday, but that “nothing about quarantine came up.”

“I literally saw the story as I was walking into the room,” Murphy told reporters, at a daily press briefing on the coronavirus on Saturday.

Murphy said that his recent order requiring that all “non-essential” businesses close down until further notice is very aggressive and acknowledged that more action might be needed.

“Until further notified we are going to continue to do what we’re doing,” Murphy said. “Do we consider regularly taking further steps? You bet. Whether prompted by the president or more often than not our own. We will continue to be as aggressive as we have been, and not let up.”

And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said it did not have any information about what Trump might be planning.

“We don’t have any details and aren’t sure what the president means by his comment,” Freddi Goldstein, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in an email. “What we know is that while New York City is the epicenter of this crisis right now, it’s in all 50 states. What we need is more supplies for our hospitals – that’s how we can save lives.”

A senior administration official said Trump spoke with Cuomo on Air Force One. The official said the White House coronavirus task force has been telling the president that stricter guidelines may be necessary in New York, where federal officials have already called for people leaving the city and going elsewhere to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Federal law gives the president vast emergency powers in a pandemic, including the ability to quarantine people to slow the spread of disease between states.

Trump spoke with reporters as he left the White House for Norfolk, Va., where he delivered remarks at the Naval Station Norfolk send-off for the USNS Comfort, a naval hospital ship setting out for New York City.

Standing in front of the ship later Saturday, Trump reiterated that he was considering ordering a quarantine. “I am now considering — and will make a decision very quickly, very shortly — a quarantine, because it’s such a hot area, of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,” he said.

Trump also said that the Comfort “will provide a critical surge capacity” for the New York metropolitan area. The ship — outfitted with 12 fully equipped operating rooms and 1,000 hospital beds — will serve as medical backup for people not infected with the virus who need critical care while hospitals are overrun with Covid-19 cases.

The Comfort “will open capacity all over New York City,” Trump said. It is expected to arrive in New York on Monday.

The president was accompanied to Virginia by incoming chief of staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Defense Secretary Mark Esper, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and social media director Dan Scavino. Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien were also on hand, chatting as Trump spoke to a near-empty parking lot with the Comfort docked behind him.

The ship’s engines began stirring shortly before Trump concluded his remarks, and about a dozen sailors on the upper deck saluted the president as the ship pulled away toward the Chesapeake Bay as the speech concluded.

Gabby Orr, Katherine Landergan and Janaki Chadha contributed to this article.

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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

The extremely secluded resort island of Wakaya, Fiji, has confirmed at least five cases of COVID-19.

Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images


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Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images

The extremely secluded resort island of Wakaya, Fiji, has confirmed at least five cases of COVID-19.

Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases in the remote Pacific climb, it turns out that even natural isolation is no match against this pandemic.

The novel coronavirus has been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, Fiji as well as in the French territories of French Polynesia and New Caledonia. The U.S. territory of Guam has had one death from the disease and 51 confirmed cases of infection, believed to be the highest total of the small Pacific island jurisdictions.

In an effort to keep to the virus at bay, the authorities have put a range of policies into place from Palau to Tahiti, including travel restrictions, school closings, lockdowns and states of emergency.

Tonga, which currently has no confirmed cases, has banned public gatherings and foreign nationals. Tongan Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa said on March 23 that COVID-19 is an imminent threat and “requires a significant and coordinated response.”

These countries are trying to turn what are typically their weaknesses — isolation and remoteness — into strengths, says Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, an Australia-based think tank.

“Because the health systems are so fragile, so stretched, they just would not be able to cope with a major outbreak,” he tells NPR.

Yet in throwing up these barriers, Pacific island nations are also expected to decimate their economies in the process as they are all highly dependent on the outside world. Whether it’s tourism, foreign aid, imports or immigration — all of these things are going to be highly curtailed, Pryke says.

Tourism brings billions of dollars into the region and is the chief driver of job creation.

Fiji, for example, is the most-visited Pacific island nation, according to the South Pacific Tourism Organization. Last year, tourism made up nearly half of Fiji’s gross domestic product, with an all-time high of nearly 900,000 tourists. But most of the visitors come from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe — all places now dealing with the new coronavirus pandemic.

The Pacific islands have a combined population of about 2.3 million, according to the World Bank. They don’t have the economic firepower to stimulate the economy, Pryke says, so “they’re going to need support to just hold these countries together.”

Which means letting the outside world in — eventually.

But Pryke also holds some optimism for the region:

“Most of the people of the Pacific are not dependent on the government,” Pryke says. “They are resilient.”

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‘The Thing Unfolded in a Strangely Slow-Motion Way’

In a new interview, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg spoke about his experience hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to spread. Buttigieg described the experience as “unfold[ing] in a strangely slow-motion way.”

Buttigieg hosted Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show earlier in March, just as CDC guidelines advised against large gatherings. The former candidate hosted to a mostly empty audience, only consisting of a few staffers, friends, and Buttigieg’s husband Chasten.

Buttigieg told New York Magazine that the changes were so sudden and happened throughout the day. “That morning, it was an issue of gathering concern. It was clear it was going to be disruptive. And by evening, we didn’t have an audience. And by the next day, we were wondering whether that was the last show that would be taped for the foreseeable future. This thing has unfolded in a strangely slow-motion way.” he told New York.

Despite the changes, Buttigieg said that he still felt like it was a good to help provide something to boost morale for people while they’re stuck inside. “I think it was a good day for me to be doing something that was a little bit different, that still has to do with engaging and lifting people up,” he said.


Pete Buttigieg poses backstage at the hit play “The Inhertance” on Broadway at The Barrymore Theatre on March 8, 2020 in New York City. Buttigieg discussed his appearance hosting ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ in a new interview.
Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty

Buttigieg spoke about the importance of comedy to help people get through difficult times, and he said that he told Kimmel’s staff how important their job was. “I actually think that this was a time when we need humor, we need culture, we need art more than ever,” he said. “And it’ll be really important to watch that develop, even if this is as disruptive to the arts world as it is to the political world in terms of forcing new ways of doing business.”

During his monologue on the program, Buttigieg joked about the lack of audience. “This was not our plan. We just decided this a few hours ago, and it’s disappointing, because as you all know, I love to crowd-surf,” he quipped, before cutting to past news footage of a crowd cheering. “When you don’t have a real audience, you have to fake one,” he said. “Just like Trump’s inauguration.”

Buttigieg also called on viewers to call their representatives to pass the bill for free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave, and unemployment insurance.

Meanwhile as he’s self-isolating, Buttigieg has grown out a beard. In keeping the conversation light, the former candidate called the facial hair an “experiment,” but also said in New York Magazine that if his husband Chasten gets sick of it, “it’s not long for this world.”

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Politicians Remember Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, Who Died at 72

Former Oklahoma Republican Senator and family physician Tom Coburn died on Saturday at the age of 72.

His family released a statement following his death: “Tom A. Coburn, MD, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home this morning surrounded by his family. Because of his strong faith, he rested in the hope found in John 11:25, where Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even though they die.’ Today he lives in heaven.”

Coburn, who continued to serve patients even while in Congress, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994 and served three consecutive terms until 2001. He then served two consecutive terms in the Senate where he was first elected in 2004. Coburn retired before the end of his second term in 2015. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, but stated at the time that the prognosis did not influence his decision.

Coburn was nicknamed “Dr. No” by Democrats, because of his strong beliefs regarding fiscal responsibility and against increased government spending.

In their article reporting on Coburn’s death, The Oklahoman, his home state newspaper, printed then-President Barack Obama’s words on Coburn after he resigned in 2014. “Tom and I entered the Senate at the same time, becoming friends after our wives struck up a conversation at an orientation dinner. And even though we haven’t always agreed politically, we’ve found ways to work together — to make government more transparent, cut down on earmarks, and fight to reduce wasteful spending and make our tax system fairer. The people of Oklahoma have been well-served by this ‘country doctor from Muskogee’ over the past nine years,” the former president said at the time.

Messages from politicians poured in to remember Coburn. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted: “Senator Tom Coburn was a great conservative voice in the United States Congress and American physician whose legacy will live on. Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family during this tough time.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement in which he called Coburn “a whip-smart legislator with rock-solid principles.”

“Seventy-two years was far too few for someone this brilliant, this tireless, and this dedicated to serving others. The Senate mourns our friend. We stand in prayer with his beloved wife Carolyn, their daughters Sarah, Katie, and Callie, and the entire Coburn family,” McConnell stated.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham sent out his condolences: “Very, very sad to hear the passing of my dear friend Tom Coburn. He was truly ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington.’ Very glad his suffering is over and he is now with the Lord. Tom was a great senator, a terrific husband and father, and a dear friend.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is also known for his staunch views against bloated government spending, tweeted: “Rest In Peace Tom. Kelley and I are praying for the entire family. A Republican, who believed that deficits, do indeed matter.”

Maine Senator Susan Collins also tweeted out words of comfort for Coburn’s family: “I am saddened by the passing of my friend and former colleague, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Tom was a man of deep faith and strong convictions who cared deeply for his family and our country. May God bless his wife Carolyn and daughters during this difficult time and always.”

MSNBC Morning Joe host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough tweeted out a picture of an embrace between Coburn and Obama: “Tom Coburn was a good friend and a hero for his strong stand for small government. He was fearless politically and a man of great faith. I called him over the past few months and he was in good spirits. He knew he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.”

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‘It’s A Hot Spot’ : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

During his remarks to reporters before his departure to Norfolk, Va., President Trump said outside the White House that there was a “possibility that sometime today” there will be a two-week quarantine on parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

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During his remarks to reporters before his departure to Norfolk, Va., President Trump said outside the White House that there was a “possibility that sometime today” there will be a two-week quarantine on parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump says he is “looking at” quarantining New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, which have developed as “hot spots” of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’d like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot — New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” Trump said Saturday outside the White House before departing for Norfolk, Va.

At Naval Station Norfolk, the president spoke about the deployment of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship destined for New York Harbor. The ship will support the taxed medical resources of New York City — which, with more than 29,000 confirmed cases and more than 500 deaths linked to the virus as of Saturday morning, has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that statewide, “we have lost 728 New Yorkers to Coronavirus.”

The governors of Florida and Rhode Island have already announced that they are requiring travelers from New York to go into a 14-day quarantine. Cuomo also said Saturday that the state is postponing its presidential primary — originally scheduled for April 28 — back to June 23.

New Jersey has also seen a big spike in cases recently — with more than 11,000 confirmed, in all, at least 140 of which have resulted in the patient’s death.

“We might not have to do [the quarantine],” Trump told reporters Saturday, “but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short-term two weeks for New York, probably, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.”

He added that “we wouldn’t” close the New York City subway and that “we’re not going to need” the National Guard, explaining that he plans to speak with Cuomo later.

Cuomo said that despite his recent conversations with the president about the hospital ship, he had heard nothing from Trump “about any quarantine.”

“I haven’t had those conversations,” the governor said at a separate news briefing Saturday in New York. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Across the country, more than 105,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed — though experts suspect the true extent of the virus to be much larger, with the federal government still struggling to adequately supply testing kits, ventilators and personal protective gear for local health care workers.

For now, Trump tweeted that the decision on a possible quarantine of three states “will be made, one way or the other, shortly.”