Trump signs that $2 trillion emergency bill; the US powers past the 100,000 mark in confirmed cases; the White House tries to kill a Biden PAC ad highlighting Trump’s public statements downplaying the pandemic; and much more.
* Today’s statewide numbers: 3,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases – up 493 from yesterday – and 175 deaths, 28 more than Thursday. Local counties: King: 1,760 cases/125 deaths; Pierce 231/5 ; Snohomish 913/23. Four of Pierce County’s five deaths have come in the last day.
* Snohomish County, with more cases than many states, finally received its first shipment of protective equipment yesterday from the national stockpile.
* A Community Transit driver has died from COVID-19. Nine CT employees had tested positive as of Wednesday.
* Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said today she would issue an emergency order spending $1 million a month on emergency child care while schools are closed.
* Seattle also announced it will put 14 public toilets and six handwashing stations in parks and community centers. The facilities will be open each day from 7 AM to 8 PM. The lack of sanitation help from the city has been a constant complaint by homeless service providers since the city first declared a “state of emergency” on homelessness six years ago.
* A statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine touts that the county and the City of Seattle have combined to create 1,893 new spaces for homeless individuals to either shelter or self-isolate during the crisis. There’s still no plan from either the county or the city on what to do with homeless people living in their vehicles – an estimated one-third of the homeless population in King County.
* Across the closed border, British Columbia reported a reduction this week in the growth of new cases as the effects of social distancing take hold there. B.C. currently has 725 cases.
* The House passed, and Trump signed, the $2.2 trillion emergency bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday.
* The White House filed cease and desist orders to television stations planning to air a new ad from a pro-Biden SuperPAC. The ad juxtaposes President Nero’s public statements downplaying the pandemic with the steady rise in US cases and Trump’s refusal to take any responsibility for it. The letter to stations threatens the forfeiture of their broadcast license if they air the ad. Under Republican deregulation, it’s almost impossible for stations to lose their licenses – the only remaining offense that serious is if a licensee is convicted of a drug offense.
* The EPA has indefinitely suspended its enforcement of anti-pollution laws, giving companies a green light to contaminate air and water.
* The US Conference of Mayors (USCM) released a survey of 213 large and small cities, showing an overwhelming shortage of face masks, test kits, PPEs, ventilators, and other medical equipment. More than 90 percent said they didn’t have enough face masks for police officers, firefighters, and emergency workers. Two-thirds of the cities said they hadn’t received additional supplies – and of those who did, 85 percent said it wasn’t enough. The USCM, not surprisingly, is asking the federal government to help.
* 519 people have now died from COVID-19 in New York alone – up from 385 yesterday. More than 44,600 people in the state have tested positive, an increase of 7,700 from Thursday.
* Pittsburgh sanitation workers walked off the job Wednesday, claiming the city wasn’t giving them enough protective gear on the job. The wife of one sanitation worker has tested positive for COVID-19.
* Another cruise ship is in trouble, marooned with four deaths from COVID-19. The Holland America ship “Zaandam” is now anchored in the harbor of Panama City, Panama, after leaving Buenos Aires and failing receive permission to land anywhere in South America. Some 85 crew members and 53 passengers are symptomatic. The ship is now waiting for permission to cross the Panama Canal en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
* At least 18 cruise ships are at sea and returning to the US. The CDC has apparently given up on quarantining passengers and in recent days has allowed hundreds of exposed and sick passengers to disembark and travel home on commercial airline flights.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19. So has his Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. And the government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, is also self-isolating with symptoms.
* Where is the United Nations during the pandemic? Paralyzed, it turns out, in part by a US insistence that any joint statement should emphasize the Chinese origins of the pandemic, and in part by Russia’s refusal to allow the UN Security Council to meet by video conference rather than at UN headquarters in Manhattan, currently the epicenter of the global outbreak. The US has also ignored UN calls to suspend economic sanctions against vulnerable nations, instead tightening sanctions against Iran and Venezuela this week.
* Italy recorded a staggering 969 deaths today, after the rise in its number of confirmed cases had been declining all week.
* Ireland has issued a 14 day stay at home order. France extended its lockdown for two more weeks.
* A stadium in Wales is being converted into a 2,000-bed field hospital.The UK is already building similar field hospitals in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. The UK’s rate of infection has been doubling every 3-4 days.
* There are now 595,800 cases worldwide. The US broke the 100,000 barrier of confirmed cases today. Italy passed China for the second-most cases. Germany became the fifth country with at least 50,000 confirmed cases. Turkey is threatening to become the next major global hotspot; its cases have tripled since Tuesday. Worldwide, there are now 27,324 COVID-19 deaths.
* Countries with over 3,000 cases (Thursday’s total in parentheses):
USA 103,942 (85,991)
Italy 86,498 (80,589)
China 81,897 (81,782)
Spain 64,285 (57,786)
Germany 50,871 (43,938)
France 33,402 (29,566)
Iran 32,332 (29,406)
UK 14,743 (11,813)
Switzerland 12,928 (11,811)
South Korea 9,332 (9,332)
Netherlands 8,642 (7,469)
Austria 7,657 (6,909)
Belgium 7,284 (6,235)
Turkey 5,698 (3,629)
Canada 4,682 (4,046)
Portugal 4,268 (3,544)
Norway 3,755 (3,372)
Brazil 3,417 (2,985)
Australia 3,143 (3,143)
Sweden 3,069 (2,840)
Israel 3,035 (3,035)
Enjoy your weekend at home. GO WASH YOUR HANDS!