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What to do if you lose your health insurance
Massive unemployment amid the COVID-19 shutdown means millions have also lost their employer health insurance.
9 m
Coronavirus patients report strange new symptom: fizzing
One patient described it as "an electric feeling on my skin."
9 m
New York Times op-ed: Coronavirus dispelling the 'myth' that America is 'best country on earth'
The coronavirus has underscored U.S. inequality and its vulnerabilities to the point that people might stop believing its the greatest country on earth, New York Times columnist Viet Thanh Nguyen argued.
Las Vegas doctor explains how 'proning' COVID-19 patients can be 'difference between life and death'
A technique called "proning" can be the difference between life and death for critical COVID-19 patients, Southern Hills Hospital ICU Medical Director Dr. Christopher Voscopoulos said Friday.
Connecticut Gov. Lamont extends closures, social distancing guidelines through May 20
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday said he would sign an executive order extending the state’s social distancing guidelines, and closures of businesses and schools, to “at least” May 20 to further curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Shel Silverstein's whimsical houseboat floats onto the market in Sausalito
In Sausalito, a World War II-era balloon barge fashioned into a houseboat once owned by poet Shel Silverstein is asking $783,000.
Coronavirus forces adjustments in Good Friday worship
Coronavirus forces changes in Good Friday worship.
Whales filmed playing off coast of France in rare sighting
LE PECQ, France — With humans away, the whales will play. In another sign that wild animals are roaming more freely while locked-down people are sheltering indoors from the coronavirus, a maritime patrol has filmed remarkable images of whales powering through Mediterranean waters off the coast of southern France. The graceful pair of fin whales...
Schumer, Mnuchin hold talks over interim coronavirus legislation
Senate Democrats blocked legislation expanding a small business loans program Thursday, arguing it was insufficient.
6-month suspension of student loan payments in coronavirus stimulus touted as ‘significant relief’
The CARES Act coronavirus stimulus bill was signed into law last month and it enables borrowers to suspend payments on federally held student loans until Sept. 30, giving people a six-month reprieve.
More than half of Americans now wearing face masks as coronavirus spreads
More than half of Americans who went out in public in the past week said they wore a face mask to protect themselves from the coronavirus — but Democrats were far more likely to don the protective gear than Republicans, according to a poll released Friday. The ABC/Ipsos survey found that overall, 55 percent of...
Virus cases on U.S. warship continue to climb after captain fired
The air craft carrier now has 447 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
XFL suspends operations, lays off entire staff over coronavirus
Less than a month after cancelling the remainder of its return season, the XFL informed its employees they have been laid off and the fledgling football league is suspending operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The XFL’s chief operating officer Jeffery Pollock informed employees on a conference call Friday, according to multiple reports. The Vince...
Drake debuts Birkin bag collection purchased for future wife
"Drake’s two-story closet...[is] the perfect place to display the musician’s extensive wardrobe, sneaker collection, and the array of precious Hermès Birkin bags that he has been amassing for years."
'The Batman' director gives update on the film after coronavirus shuts down production
Like many other film projects, production on “The Batman” is on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, that hasn’t stopped director Matt Reeves from finding ways to work on the film while self-isolating in London.
Dean Skelos quarantined in prison with coronavirus-like ailment
Skelos, 72, who was convicted of public corruption for using his office to get his son Adam cash and jobs, reported being ill on Wednesday, a source familiar with his condition said.
Good News Still Exists: 7 Stories Guaranteed to Leave You Smiling
We've got a picture of a cloned kitten and seven other stories of good news from around the world to share.
New Hampshire's GOP governor OKs absentee balloting in November due to coronavirus
The Republican governor of New Hampshire says he’ll allow widespread voting by absentee ballot in the state’s September primary and November general election if the coronavirus pandemic’s still a health threat later this year.
Global Coronavirus Cases Pass 1.5 Million and Deaths Near 100,000: Live Updates
Across Europe, countries are ramping up policing to enforce restrictions on movement as the Easter break begins. Moscow’s outbreak is gaining momentum. And South Korea holds an election with safe distancing.
IRS, Treasury launch online tool to get stimulus payments to nonfilers
Millions of Americans aren’t required to file tax returns, including those with very low incomes.
Trump plans to open 2.3 million acres of wildlife refuges to hunting, fishing
The Trump administration announced plans on Wednesday to open up 2.3 million acres of land to hunting and fishing on more than 100 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries across the country – earning praise from hunting groups but derision from wildlife conservation organizations who called the move “tone deaf” as the country reels from...
'Trolls World Tour' stars Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick surprise a heroic nurse's kids
Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake surprise four young "Trolls" fans, whose ER nurse mother is away fighting the novel coronavirus, with a video call.
Coronavirus deaths pass 100,000 globally
Coronavirus: More than 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 across the world.
UK: Daily Coronavirus Deaths Overtake Daily Records for Italy, Spain
LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs time to recover from the new coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work soon, his father said Friday, as millions of Britons began an Easter holiday weekend in lockdown and the U.K. recorded almost 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths than the day before.
Boy from remote Amazonian tribe dies from coronavirus
A teenager from an isolated Amazonian tribe who tested positive for Covid-19 has died, raising concerns about the coronavirus' impact on the region's indigenous people.
A boy from a remote Amazonian tribe has died, raising concerns about Covid-19's impact on indigenous people
The 15-year-old boy, a Yanomami from the village of Rehebe on the Uraricoera River, died on Thursday, according to Brazil's Ministry of Health.
Trump delivers hopeful Easter message from Oval Office: 'Our nation will come through'
President Trump delivered a hopeful Easter message from the Oval Office Friday as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic, thanking Americans for their prayers, acknowledging the difficult road ahead as the nation navigates the crisis and promising that "our nation will come through like never before."
Alec Baldwin says Americans are 'mentally ill' if they vote for Trump again
Actor Alec Baldwin argued on Wednesday that Americans were "mentally ill" if they voted for President Trump in the coming election.
Apple and Google partner to help track people's exposure to coronavirus
Apple and Google are partnering to help authorities track exposure to the coronavirus using Bluetooth technology.
Uganda's president releases indoor workout video
In a bid to encourage Ugandans to stay home during the country's coronavirus lockdown, president Yoweri Museveni released his own indoor workout video.
When will cruises resume amid coronavirus? CDC extends ban on sailing
The CDC extends its no-sail order without a firm date of when cruise ships will set sail from U.S. ports
Dog rescued after owner hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms
Owner said he had no choice but to leave his beloved German shepherd behind when he went to the hospital.
U.S. consumer prices post largest drop in five years amid coronavirus disruptions
U.S. consumer prices fell by the most in more than five years in March and further decreases are likely as the novel coronavirus outbreak suppresses demand for some goods and services, offsetting price increases related to shortages resulting from disruptions to the supply chain.
Apple TV+ jumps on the free-content bandwagon, offering 'Dickinson,' 'Servant' and more
Apple TV+ has joined a list of streaming sites that are offering free programs without a subscription. Watch 'Dickinson' or the thriller 'Servant' from M. Night Shyamalan.
Disney unveils a star-studded lineup for its socially distanced family sing-along on ABC
Christina Aguilera, John Stamos, Auli'i Cravalho and more Disney regulars will take part in ABC's "Disney Family Singalong" event from their homes.
Hero of the Day: Port Authority cop raises money for NJ bakery hit by coronavirus fallout
Vaccaro's Bakery has been in business since 1954, starting with a spot in Colonia before setting up shop 20 years later in Clark, where residents still flock to it for its black and white cookies and crumb cakes.
What to Know About the Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Coming to Americans
Will the stimulus checks be seized by debt collectors? Will the money be taxed? How soon will checks hit bank accounts? All of your burning questions are answered here.
Members of Congress connect with constituents while working from home
Like many Americans, lawmakers are now relying on their phones and video conferences to tele-work.
Office of Director of National Intelligence says CNN coronavirus report 'contains inaccurate information'
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused CNN of publishing inaccurate information on Thursday.
Faulty masks. Flawed tests. China's quality control problem in leading global COVID-19 fight
Chinese companies producing faulty testing kits and masks are marring Beijing's attempts to assert leadership in the fight against the coronavirus.
Fact check: US Postal Service will not close in June
The Postal Service faces dire finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic but it isn't going to stop operating.
Book + audio excerpt: Conor Knighton's "Leave Only Footprints"
The "Sunday Morning" correspondent introduces his account of a year-long trek through America's National Parks
What's on TV This Week: Cate Blanchett in 'Mrs. America' and more
TV highlights for April 12-18 include Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly in "Mrs. America," the TCM Classic Film Festival, salutes to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and the star-studded benefit "One World: Together at Home" with Billie Eilish, Elton John, et al.
Ford and GM are making tens of thousands of ventilators. It may already be too late.
General Motors workers are repurposing a car factory to make as many ventilators as they can, as quickly as possible. | AJ Mast/General Motors From major car makers to DIY creations, we’re about to have more ventilators than we ever thought possible. A newfound need for ventilators has made interesting partners out of medical device makers and car manufacturers. The two industries have recently combined forces to rapidly mass produce ventilators and fill any shortages that may arise due to the coronavirus pandemic. On April 8, after weeks of dithering, the Trump administration ordered 30,000 ventilators from General Motors (GM) under the Defense Production Act (DPA) for the Strategic National Stockpile, which would quadruple its existing supply. The same day, reports emerged that some doctors were questioning using ventilators on some coronavirus patients at all. The country’s ventilator shortage has quickly become a complex and nuanced debate. Some fear that the herculean effort by automakers won’t put enough ventilators in hospitals in time. Others point out that increasing the ventilator supply only saves lives if there are enough beds, medication, and health professionals to treat patients who need them. The FDA has temporarily loosened restrictions on who can make critical care ventilators and which devices can be used for critically ill coronavirus patients, which has made them easier to produce. But that doesn’t completely solve the problem — and it may even create other problems. It doesn’t help that President Trump is now using ventilators as a form of political patronage. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates that the concurrent need for ventilators in the United States will peak at about 17,000 on April 14, though the actual number could fall anywhere within a range of about 8,000 to 35,500. It’s estimated that we have about 170,000 ventilators in the country, but that doesn’t mean there will be enough wherever they’re most needed. The Strategic National Stockpile has a ventilator supply that’s meant to fill any shortages, but the tens of thousands of ventilators now being manufactured to address that shortage won’t be ready for months. The delay isn’t for lack of trying. The medical device industry just wasn’t built to make this many machines this quickly. It’s never had to before: This is the first time we’ve needed to use any of the stockpile’s ventilators. “If you’re a ventilator manufacturer right now and somebody wants to make 50,000 of your ventilators, that’s more than you would typically sell in five or six years,” Rich Branson, a registered respiratory therapist and professor at the University of Cincinnati, told Recode. While GM’s efforts are perhaps the more widely known thanks to Trump’s recent Twitter tirade criticizing them, he’s also mentioned Ford, telling the company to “get going on ventilators.” Tesla has also expressed an interest in producing ventilators, as have car companies in other countries, such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar in the United Kingdom. These have drawn comparisons to wartime efforts by car companies — including Ford and GM — to produce tanks and airplanes out of their car factories during WWII. It’s so far unclear whether the results of these efforts will have the same sort of world-changing effects. GM’s portable ventilators don’t reinvent the wheel Car companies have large factories, mass production experience, and connections to supply chains needed for the hundreds of parts that go into a ventilator. But repurposing a car factory to make a medical device as complex as a ventilator isn’t easy. GM is taking a streamlined approach by making Ventec’s existing VOCSN ventilator model, which is cleared by the FDA to fill the critical care needs like those faced by coronavirus patients. Initially, a stripped-down version of the VOCSN, called the V+Pro, will be produced that uses fewer parts and can be done sooner. Ventec’s ventilators are small and portable. They also don’t have all of the features you’d find in a ventilator in an ICU, which makes them cheaper, easier, and faster to build. “Rather than recreating the wheel and trying to build something from the ground up, let’s take what we know works, and find a partner who can help us scale that more quickly,” Chris Brooks, chief strategy officer of Ventec Life Systems, told Recode. GM’s Kokomo, Indiana, factory was chosen for the effort because it already does advanced electronic work that lends itself well to producing these ventilators. The plant only has about 300 employees, so the company will also be making new hires for the effort, for which it ultimately hopes to have 1,000 people. If nothing else, the effort will provide work for several hundred people during a time of unprecedented mass unemployment. A process that would normally take “many, many months or even years,” Brooks said, has been compressed into a few weeks. Ventec and GM have been working “flat-out” since their talks began in mid-March, but it takes time to secure a supply chain, create new molds and tools, and train workers. GM anticipates it will build a few hundred ventilators by the end of April, and the company is set to deliver its first batch of about 6,000 ventilators to the stockpile by June 1. The rest will arrive by the end of August. The order for the stockpile will also cost the federal government nearly $490 million. But that’s not even the biggest ventilator contract in the works: The HHS also announced on April 8 that it will pay Phillips $647 million for 2,500 ventilators for the stockpile by the end of May and 43,000 by the end of the year. You might remember Phillips as the company the government once contracted to build 10,000 ventilators for the stockpile at a cost of $13.8 million. Those ventilators never arrived. The Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency has also purchased 8,000 ventilators from four different companies for $84 million. And Trump has asked the HHS to use the DPA to procure ventilators from Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Vyaire, and General Electric (GE), though contracts with those companies have not yet been announced. Ford teams up with GE Healthcare to make even simpler ventilators Though it doesn’t have an order from the government yet, GE Healthcare has already teamed up with Ford to lay the foundations of a plan to produce 50,000 ventilators by July. The partnership will produce ventilators licensed from Airon, a small company that used to sell 50 ventilators a month at best. Typically used in transport situations, the Model A is FDA-cleared and has an Emergency Use Authorization from the agency for use on coronavirus patients. It’s a simple device, down to its power source: gas, rather than electricity or battery. Whereas your typical $50,000 ICU ventilator will have a large touchscreen and a computer that controls, monitors, and records all aspects of a patient’s breathing, the Airon ventilator is controlled by switches and dials and has an analog meter in lieu of a digital display. Ford An Airon Model A ventilator, which will be built by Ford and GE Healthcare. The benefit of such simplicity is that many of these ventilators can be made quickly, as they require fewer parts. While the most complicated critical care ventilators have well over 1,000 parts, the Airon has between 250 and 300, according to the Washington Post. The stripped-down Ventec model that GM is producing, by comparison, has just over 400. GE Healthcare told the Post that it consulted with experts and clinicians who have treated coronavirus patients who said the Airon model meets the needs of patients who only require a “simplified, more basic ventilator.” But some experts disagree. “I give Ford credit,” Branson, the respiratory therapist, said. “They went in, and they realized this thing’s really not very expensive, it doesn’t have very many parts, and the parts that are in it are pretty simple, so probably easy to scale up in a hurry. But if you’re going to have to distribute it with a disclaimer that says, ‘Don’t use on the really sick people,’ that is going to be a real problem.” Branson was part of the Task Force on Mass Critical Care, which created guidelines more than a decade ago for stockpile ventilators in the case of a pandemic. The Airon model does not fill all of that criteria, Branson said. (Branson is also a member of Ventec’s Clinical Board and worked with Ventec to develop the VOCSN.) Ford will initially produce the ventilators in Airon’s Florida plant, which can currently make as many as three ventilators per day. By April 20, Ford says it will have started production out of one of its own plants in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The company hopes this will allow 500 workers to make as many as 30,000 per month. Earlier, Ford and GE announced they would collaborate to produce a simplified GE ventilator, but the companies haven’t released details about that venture yet. With thousands of them scheduled to arrive by the summer, the Airon ventilators could prove useful as the peak of the pandemic hits certain parts of the United States — not to mention other countries that will likely also need ventilators once America’s surge has passed. As is the case with GM, however, the Ford and GE Healthcare partnership will only produce several hundred ventilators by the end of April, missing the expected mid-April peak in places like New York, Louisiana, and California. Tesla plans to repurpose its car parts as the DIY crowd gets creative Outside of Detroit, there are myriad efforts to produce ventilators through even less-traditional avenues. In late March, the FDA loosened some restrictions on ventilators, saying it wouldn’t enforce certain regulations for the duration of the pandemic, paving the way for ventilator prototypes built by anyone from large companies to medical residents. While it’s possible some of these headline-grabbing efforts could be used to treat coronavirus patients, that seems unlikely. Elon Musk made a much-publicized jump into the ventilator fray with a March 18 tweet that Tesla would “make ventilators” in the case of a shortage. He later said Tesla’s Buffalo, New York, factory would produce Medtronic machines. But it has yet to do so, and when Medtronic was asked about the status of the project, a spokesperson would only say that another Musk company, SpaceX, was making a subcomponent valve used in its ventilators. Tesla did not respond to request for comment. Tesla is also designing its own model. The company recently released a video of a prototype made largely out of Tesla car parts, the idea there being that it wouldn’t take any parts away from actual ventilator manufacturers. Even the monitor is Tesla: a touchscreen powered by the car’s infotainment system. As intriguing as the design seems, Tesla has not said when, if ever, it expects this model to go into production. Tesla’s homegrown ventilator is similar to the cottage industry of DIY efforts that has cropped up over the last several weeks. Some come from engineers and doctors who want to build entirely new devices, like this open source design from Vanderbilt University or MIT’s “E-Vent” project. Others aim to adapt existing ventilators to be more effective during the pandemic. Engineers from the University of South Carolina and Prisma Health’s VESper, for instance, are sharing plans for a 3D-printed device that can allow one ventilator to be used on two patients. Massachusetts General Hospital anesthesia residents are also hosting the CoVent-19 Challenge, a contest for “rapidly deployable ventilator” designs. Over in the United Kingdom, there’s vacuum cleaner and fan company Dyson. Like Tesla, it designed its own ventilator prototype. The British government has already ordered 10,000 of them, but the design does not yet have regulatory approval despite the process being fast-tracked. It also appears that Dyson’s ventilators will miss the UK’s peak week, assuming they are ever produced at all. There’s even an effort to bring back the iron lung. “I hear people say about the devices that people are trying to make in their garage: ‘well, it’s better than nothing,’” Branson says. “Well, not really. And people say, ‘well, it can be used on people who aren’t so sick.’ The patients who aren’t so sick aren’t going on a ventilator.” Ventilators alone will never be enough Some may see these options as better than nothing. Others don’t. “I think the reality is, with Covid patients, they need a true critical care ventilator that’s powerful and precise,” Brooks, the Ventec executive, said. “If you don’t have the right ventilator for these patients, they’re just not going to survive.” Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, was even more blunt, telling Time magazine that the prospect of treating patients with ventilators that weren’t up to critical care standards was “terrifying.” There’s also a growing backlash against ventilators of any kind. Recent articles in Stat, NPR, and the Associated Press say that some medical professionals are starting to think that ventilators are overused for coronavirus patients, with some people being put on them before all other, less-invasive options have been exhausted. A higher-than-average mortality rate for coronavirus patients put on ventilators may also show that they can make things worse in certain cases. The AP reported a mortality rate of 40 to 50 percent for non-coronavirus patients in severe respiratory distress versus a rate of 80 percent for coronavirus patients in New York City hospitals. Put simply: Even a top-of-the-line, full-featured, critical care ventilator doesn’t guarantee that a patient will recover from coronavirus — far from it. None of these challenges even begin to address the need for medical professionals to run these machines and care for the patients on them. That’s a round-the-clock job that requires specific expertise, from inserting the tube to managing and monitoring oxygen flow to removing lung secretions (the mucus you’d cough up in a normal situation, basically). It also requires drugs to keep the patient sedated while intubated, and those are now in short supply as well. Again, recent projections put the peak concurrent ventilator usage at 17,000 on April 14. Experts also predict coronavirus patients will need about 20,000 ICU beds that day — and that we will be 9,000 ICU beds short. So it won’t matter how many ventilators we have if we also don’t have enough of everything else. “All the ventilators in the world aren’t sufficient if you don’t have beds for the patients to be in, nurses to care for them, respiratory therapists to run the ventilator, and doctors to determine the best path of care,” Branson — who literally wrote the book on respiratory care equipment — said. “If, somehow, Elon Musk did invent the greatest ventilator in the world, and he could make them all by Friday afternoon, and he sent a million of them to New York, that wouldn’t solve this problem ... I understand we focused on the ventilator, but we focused on it too much.” Whatever their drawbacks, ventilators do save lives. It would be a moral failing if we didn’t address this shortage, even in the face of discouraging odds. That in mind, it’s laudable that companies like Ford and GM are taking wartime-like measures to manufacture ventilators as fast as they possibly can. In any case, these ventilators are a stop-gap measure. But they aren’t a cure. “Social distancing is the most important part in all of this,” Branson added. “And, of course, either a drug or a vaccine is really the solution.” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
British PM Boris Johnson able to walk again as coronavirus condition improves
Coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson can now go on short walks after being transferred from the intensive care unit in a London hospital.
Justin Timberlake sends 'Trolls World Tour' joy from family quarantine: 'It's a surreal time'
Rural Montana is not where Justin Timberlake expected to be putting out "Trolls World Tour." But the home release brings a fitting message of joy.
Cuomo calls for creation of national coronavirus 'Heroes Compensation Fund'
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the federal government Friday to set up a “COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund” to assist those who have been battling the coronavirus on the front lines -- similar to what was done after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Why Iceland has tested more people for COVID-19 than anywhere else
Dr. Thorolfur Gudnason, Iceland's chief epidemiologist explains how the country is aiming to find out more about how the COVID-19 disease spreads.