* Statewide: 6,966 confirmed cases, up nearly 1,000 from the previous total released March 31, and 284 deaths. Local counties through Tuesday: King 2,711 cases/188 deaths, including 23 since yesterday; Pierce 433/7; Snohomish 1,317/38.
* Seattle is temporarily eliminating metered parking on city streets during the state’s stay at home order, now scheduled to last until May 4. Other parking restrictions, including restricted parking zone time limits, disabled spots, and load zones, will continue to be enforced.
* Metro and Sound Transit announced further cuts in service as ridership plummets.
* Celebrity local restaurateur Tom Douglas says he is closing his 13 restaurants because he is broke from the cost of closing his businesses. Douglas estimated that “It’s going to be tough for 50 percent of our restaurants to come back.” The move underscores the thin profit margin most restaurants operate with, and the difficulty many will have surviving the pandemic.
* State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a 60-day grace period for all stand-alone dental plans.
* As expected, the CDC issued new guidelines today recommending that all people wear cloth masks or other face coverings in public. Trump immediately undercut the CDC, saying, ‘I’m choosing not to do it.”
* Trump’s daily press briefing was once again a sh*tshow, with the president insulting reporters and rejecting Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation for a national stay at home order, instead blaming state governors for the pandemic.
* To nobody’s surprise, Trump also came out as opposed to national voting by mail for the November election, claiming without evidence that it would lead to vote fraud. The likely Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has called for states to prepare to make voting by mail an option in November.
* Stocks dropped again Friday, as March’s monthly employment numbers were unsurprisingly bad and Europe recorded its biggest-ever one-month drop in economic activity.
* More than 10,000 loans worth more than $3.2 billion were processed by the Small Business Administration today, in the first day of small business loans under the $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill passed by Congress last week. Another emergency bill is being worked on by House Democrats.
* A West Virginia bank became the first bank failure in the US attributed to the impact of the pandemic.
* Alabama became the 41st state to issue a stay at home order. The remaining nine states all have Republican governors: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.
* Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a stay at home order only yesterday, scheduled to take effect this evening. But he also quietly issued an order overturning more stringent local restrictions – and exempted churches from his stay at home order. The Tampa megachurch whose pastor was arrested last weekend for defying a county restriction on large gatherings appears to be back in business this Sunday. Packed churches for Easter – only nine days away!
* Amidst a nationwide blood shortage, the FDA has eased the ban on blood donations by gay men, a ban that dates to the early days of AIDS almost 40 years ago. There are still steep restrictions. Gay men in a committed relationship with an HIV-negative partner still aren’t eligible. Bigotry dies hard.
* The Trump Administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has quietly toughened rules for workers seeking union representation, amidst a national wave of labor organizing in workplaces with serious public health concerns.
* The WNBA women’s pro basketball league postponed the beginning of its season, which was set to start May 15.
* 134 inmates at Cook County (Chicago) Jail, the nation’s largest single-site jail, have tested positive.
* An outbreak at a San Antonio nursing home has infected 67 of the facility’s 84 residents, with one death. Eight staff members have also tested positive, and authorities are scrambling to conduct tests at seven other area nursing homes where the staff also worked. Texas, finally, issued a stay at home order yesterday; most of its major cities, including San Antonio, have had such orders in place for at least two weeks.
* New York state passed 100,000 confirmed cases today. Only three *countries* – Spain, Italy, and, of course, the US – have more. The situation in New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey hospitals became increasingly desperate today. New York City alone has nearly 50,000 cases. One out of every six NYPD officers either has tested positive or is in quarantine. One out of every 4 EMS personnel in the city has also tested positive.
* Four states passed the 10,000 mark in confirmed cases: Michigan, California, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.
New York 102,985 (84,046)
New Jersey 29,895 (22,255)
Michigan 12,744 (9,315)
California 11,898 (9,937)
Massachusetts 10,402 (7,738)
Louisiana 10,297 (6,424)
Florida 9,585 (7,773)
Illinois 8,904 (6,980)
Pennsylvania 8,570 (6,063)
Washington 6,670 (5,984)
* In Thailand, The United States intercepted a shipment of 200,000 masks for health care workers, made by 3M and bound for the city of Berlin, in an incident a German official described as “modern piracy.” The Trump Administration is also trying to use the Defense Protection Act to bar 3M from exporting medical supplies from the US to any other countries, including Canada and Mexico.
* French authorities also accused the US of outbidding, on a Chinese airport runway, a supply of masks about to be shipped from China to Paris. So what’s to stop, say, China, from refusing to export protective gear to the US? So far, 68 countries have put limits on their own export of medical supplies.
* A doctor who leads a Russian doctors’ union has been detained for challenging the country’s official count of COVID-19 cases. Russia currently reports 4,149 confirmed cases, a total that has grown rapidly this week. Critics have cast doubt on the accuracy of the official case and death counts of several authoritarian countries, especially Russia, China, and Iran – and North Korea, which claimed, this week, it still has no cases.
* The global total of confirmed cases is 1,098,848 and 59,131 deaths – up almost 8,000 deaths from yesterday.
* Amidst encouraging signs that Italy is finally beginning to slow its pandemic, Spain – whose outbreak began in earnest about a week after Italy’s – was poised to pass it for the second-most confirmed cases in the world. Meanwhile, South Korea – which a month ago had the second highest number of cases in the world – passed 10,000 cases. It now ranks 15th globally.
* Countries with over 5,000 cases (Thursday’s total in parentheses):
USA 277,828 (236,339)
Italy 119,827 (115,242)
Spain 119,199 (110,238)
Germany 91,159 (84,600)
China 82,511 (82,432)
France 65,202 (59,929)
Iran 53,183 (50,468)
UK 38,690 (34,765)
Turkey 20,921 (18,135)
Switzerland 19,606 (18,827)
Belgium 16,770 (15,348)
Netherlands 15,821 (14,784)
Canada 12,439 (11,114)
Austria 11,524 (11,108)
South Korea 10,062 (9,976)
Portugal 9,866 (9,034)
Brazil 9,194 (7,031)
Israel 7,428 (6,808)
Sweden 6,731 (5,466)
Norway 5,370 (5,131)
Australia 5,330 (<5000) Your COVID-19 musical accompaniment of the day. GO WASH YOUR HANDS