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Taylor Swift’s Father Safe After Fighting Off Burglar in Florida Penthouse

A burglar broke into Scott Swift's $4 million Florida penthouse, police said
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Nurses protest coronavirus mask and glove shortage in the Bronx
About 30 furious nurses and their relatives protested a shortage of masks and gloves in front of Jacobi Hospital’s Emergency Room in the Bronx early Saturday, demanding the government provide personal protective equipment immediately. The nurses stood six feet apart, holding signs reading “Healthcare before Profits,” “Respect Public Healthcare Nurses” and “We Risk our Lives...
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nypost.com
Rep. Yvette Clarke promotes public WiFi Kiosks during coronavirus pandemic
During a lengthy Facebook Live broadcast on March 22, the Brooklyn lawmaker urged anyone having internet problems during the pandemic to go out and use the public WiFi provided at sidewalk kiosks.
nypost.com
New York Coronavirus Update: Almost 75 Percent of Young COVID-19 Deaths in NYC Had Some Underlying Illness
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, with over 40 percent of the country's confirmed cases.
newsweek.com
NYC coronavirus cases reach nearly 30K, with a death every 9.5 seconds
At least 67 more people died overnight from COVID-19, bringing the death toll for the five boroughs to 517, new numbers released by the city reveal.
nypost.com
Thomas Massie defends controversial House request: Congress 'dodging accountability' on largest expenditure in history
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., on Saturday defended his actions in calling for congressional accountability in the final vote on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill.
foxnews.com
Ex-Astro Evan Gattis shows off Mike Fiers ‘snitches’ beer mug
Evan Gattis might have Mike Fiers on his mind every time he drinks a cold one. The former Astros catcher and designated hitter on Friday showed off his creepy new beer glass, which depicts Fiers’ face and the line, “snitches get stitches.” It was Fiers who blew the whistle on the Astros’ cheating scandal, going...
nypost.com
Trump mulls imposing coronavirus quarantine on New York, New Jersey Connecticut
foxnews.com
The Next Coronavirus Relief Bill Must Protect Dreamers—for Their Safety and Ours
27,000 DACA recipients work in health care. If they lose their status, more patients may die.
slate.com
Former Sen. Tom Coburn, Fiscal Hawk And 'Dr. No,' Dies At 72
The Republican from Oklahoma died Saturday after a fight with prostate cancer. During his time in Congress, Coburn earned a reputation for fighting spending, no matter whom he crossed in the process.
npr.org
America Is Already Rationing
Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. Two weeks ago, a man came to an emergency room in New York with pain in the lower-right quadrant of his abdomen. A CT scan showed inflammation around a fingerlike projection at the base of his colon. Combined with a fever, this was a classic case of appendicitis. Surgeons took the man to the operating room and removed his appendix.The next day, recovering upstairs, the man still had a fever. Doctors ordered a test for the coronavirus. A day later, his results came back positive.Under usual circumstances, a person with a dangerous, infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19 requires special precautions in a hospital. Everyone who enters the patient’s room—even to ask how they’re doing or to pick up a lunch tray—is required to don a fresh gown, gloves, and mask. If the worker must get in close contact with the patient, the mask has to be an N95 respirator, and a face shield is required to guard the eyes. Without exception, every piece of this gear must be discarded in a biohazard dispenser upon leaving the room. An errant mask or glove or gown, coated in virus, can become lethal.After the man with appendicitis (a patient of one of the doctors I spoke with for this story) tested positive, the hospital implemented such precautions. And staff members who’d cared for him went into two weeks of isolation. Today, if every hospital employee who had a close encounter with a COVID-19 patient disappeared for two weeks, the medical workforce would quickly become depleted. A safe alternative would be to minimize potential exposures by testing everyone who stepped foot into the hospital: The virus has an average incubation period of five days, which means people can spread it in the absence of symptoms. The U.S. does not have that testing capacity. The next best thing might be to require some form of mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff, and possibly even patients, presuming that anyone could be a disease-transmitter. The U.S. also does not have enough medical supplies to do so.[Read: How the pandemic will end]Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health sent a notice to clinics that only those people “hospitalized with severe acute lower respiratory illness” could be tested for the coronavirus. California and New York, similarly, have restricted testing to health-care workers and patients who plainly seem to have the disease. The lack of widespread screening means the coronavirus may well be present in countless hospital wards without anyone realizing it. Accordingly, many emergency-room workers are now behaving as if they’re already infected and separating from their families. One ER physician told me he had been sleeping in the guest bedroom for weeks. Other doctors have sent their families off to stay at second homes.Meanwhile, the vast majority of workers who keep America’s hospitals running don’t have the salaries to afford extra bedrooms, much less extra properties. For the technicians, respiratory therapists, first responders, cleaning staff, and many others, doing their job is an act of moral complexity. Without adequate PPE, they’re putting their own health at risk every time they report for duty, as well as that of their families. They also may have other urgent reasons for staying home: being sick themselves, for one, or caring for children who are out of school or for family members who’ve fallen ill. Not working, for the minority who could financially manage this, isn’t an easy choice, either, given that it means increasing the burden on colleagues and putting them at greater risk of getting infected. And this isn’t even to mention the obligation workers at all levels of the hospital hierarchy feel to their patients.With the United States now leading the world in COVID-19 diagnoses, the demands on the medical system are rising with each passing day. Nowhere is that more evident than in New York City, the current epicenter of the crisis, where major academic hospitals are being forced to radically restructure how they deliver care. In talking with dozens of hospital workers over the past few weeks (most of whom asked not to be named for fear of professional repercussions), I heard that dermatologists are staffing emergency departments and cardiologists are taking ICU shifts. Medical students at New York University are being invited to graduate early in order to enlist as interns and begin practicing medicine immediately. Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked retired doctors to return to service as the city’s convention center is turned into a field hospital. On Thursday, Avril Benoit, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders—the group known for deploying teams to war zones and other medical deserts—told me she was working on plans to deploy resources to New York City.[Fred Milgrim: A New York doctor’s warning]During World War II, Ford and General Motors rallied to the cause by building tanks and manufacturing ammunition instead of Cadillacs and Chevys. These companies have now begun making ventilators, the devices that push air into the lungs of people who can’t breathe on their own. But without more widespread testing and basic protective equipment, the problem will be less the number of ventilators, and more the number of health-care workers available to operate them. The United States has entered its coronavirus rationing era, and the kind of medical care many people are used to isn’t going to be available all the time. The ubiquitous curve is being flattened by shutdowns and social distancing, but it is not flat enough. Those who might end up in a hospital, which is to say all of us, can do at least one thing to help relieve pressure on the medical system and its overtaxed, dwindling workforce.On a gray Monday in October 2018, a group of biomedical scientists convened in Saranac Lake, New York, to conduct a war game. The enemy was “Disease X,” a hypothetical doomsday pathogen. The scientists weren’t working for the government, but, like that of many experts who’ve gathered to offer guidance to bureaucrats and politicians, their goal was to take an inventory of existing U.S. capabilities, assess “gaps,” and suggest measures to “improve our position,” according to meeting records shared by Stephen Thomas, the chief of the infectious-disease division at the SUNY Upstate Medical University.One team was told to be risk averse, modeling the steps the U.S. would take to be optimally prepared to save as many lives as possible. The other was risk tolerant, modeling what the country would do if it chose to save money and roll the dice, hoping that things wouldn’t get too bad. A risk-averse approach would involve roughly doubling the country’s 170,000 mechanical ventilators; bulking up its strategic national stockpile of masks and medications; and expanding the ability to immediately scale up testing and vaccine development. It would also shore up supply chains of all sorts and create protocols to boost personnel in times of emergency.America rolled the dice. For just one example, the federal government has invested only around $500 million annually in the strategic stockpile, maintaining around 12 million N-95 masks and 16,600 ventilators. This was enough to equip an area hit by a localized disease outbreak, natural disaster, or terrorist attack. But it was nowhere near what could be necessary in a Disease X pandemic.[Read: We were warned]In January of this year, some Chinese scientists warned that a Disease X had arrived, based on genetic sequencing they’d performed. This novel coronavirus, SARSn-CoV-2, was almost identical to others that had been found in bats and is capable of hijacking an enzyme in human cells to cause acute respiratory failure.When I first spoke with Thomas in February, before New York had a single confirmed case, he told me his chief concern: “ICU beds will be limited, and that will mean rationing of expertise in the intensive-care setting. That’s a whole different type of medicine than most of us are used to practicing.” Thomas had spent 20 years in the Army developing “medical countermeasures” against infectious diseases, and, like other military experts who’d planned for disaster scenarios, he sounded cool-headed in talking about the looming catastrophe. He remained so when he told me on March 16 that his hospital had gotten its first case. At 10 p.m. that day, he emailed and said it had gotten its second. By March 20 he had seven. This Tuesday afternoon, he wrote, “We are doing ok. Running out of PPE and trying to build a reliable supply chain.”When we spoke by phone late Tuesday night, as he was driving home from the hospital, he sounded tired. I asked him to think back to the Disease X war game. “[The coronavirus] is much worse than what I had envisioned,” he said. “You never think the planets are going to align. You get used to the near misses. I’m taken aback by the scope, the speed, and how relentless it is. It’s amazing.”Many doctors on the front line are nonetheless being asked to operate as usual. Last week an internal-medicine physician with whom I trained in residency told me she’d been chastised by the head of her department for wearing a surgical mask at work. She feels unsafe without one, given the lack of certainty about who has the virus—not to mention the worry that she herself could be an asymptomatic carrier.[Wajahat Ali: Where are the masks?]Across the world, people are implored to avoid contact with anyone outside a small circle of family members or cohabitants. In clinics and hospitals, doctors aren’t doing their job if they are unwilling to get within inches of people, many of whom are in high-risk groups, and often do so without any protection. “This week we got an order that no masks are allowed for routine care and just walking around inside the hospital,” says John Mandrola, a cardiologist in Kentucky. He says his initial reaction was opposition, but he has now accepted that shortages demand rationing. In fact, taking the standard precautions—using fresh masks and gowns—has become impossible in hospitals in the hardest hit areas, even when treating people with florid cases of COVID-19. One New York doctor told me she keeps her mask in a brown paper bag until it is time to put it on again, though other doctors at her hospital leave theirs lying out on a countertop. Another physician has been taking his mask home and “sterilizing” it in his oven at night.This reuse of equipment is a form of rationing, though it may not usually be considered as such. It began weeks ago, when the surgeon general urged people not to buy face masks. It continued last week when the New York Department of Health implored residents to “only seek health care if you are very sick.” It continues in New York with the cancellation of “elective surgeries,” which now include even cancer treatments that can reasonably be postponed. Many if not most sick people are not getting tested, and not everyone will be treated by the doctor they might expect. Deciding who gets to see the chief of infectious diseases and who is relegated to the retired ophthalmologist will involve rationing via triage.At a small hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York, James Lindsey works overnight as the sole doctor in the ER, which is standard in all but the biggest medical centers. Lindsey told me that though he hasn’t yet felt unable to manage on his own, he has had to intubate more patients than usual. That involves inserting a tube into a person’s trachea, in order to force air into their lungs (via a ventilator). When a person can’t breathe on their own, intubation is the default action taken by all doctors and paramedics in the U.S., as is attempting to restart the heart with electrical shocks, in between rounds of chest compression that often break ribs. In a typical ER, this process involves a team of people. The question on the minds of Lindsey and others is: What happens when or if there are more patients who need to be kept alive than there is equipment or personnel to help them? [Read: America’s hospitals have never experienced anything like this]Already, ventilators in New York City are in short supply. “Everything is chaotic, and the staff is stretched really thin,” one physician wrote to me on Friday. She has had to pronounce two people dead who’ve been utterly alone, owing to the rule against visitors that hospitals have established for COVID-19 patients. “It’s really eerie and sad to have no family or visitors around to grieve their deaths,” she told me. New York’s major medical centers are poised to face the kind of life-and-death decision-making that industrialized countries typically experience only in times of war and natural disaster. And unlike with a hurricane, when the sudden force of nature makes obvious that not everyone can be saved, the drawn-out advance of the coronavirus will make these decisions more difficult to accept. We have failed to shore up protections for health-care workers. We have set ourselves up to experience the same shortages of vital care that have already happened in Italy. The rationing is already here.“The assumptions in a pandemic scenario are that personal and community good can be expected to fall out of alignment,” Thomas told me in one of his emails.“Difficult decisions will need to be made.” Deciding how to allocate limited resources is a nightmare scenario for any physician, a violation of the oath to do no harm. As Thomas put it, “Doctors should not be put in the position of dispensing of justice.”In an attempt to lift some of the burden from individual providers, Thomas’s hospital and others around the country are convening emergency meetings to develop guidelines for rationing, according to who is least likely to benefit from treatment. The goal is to make the guidelines objective, accurate, and easy to use, as well as to minimize the waste of resources. The instructions could be as strict as age limits for intensive care, or to withhold it from people who have the lowest chance of survival, such as those suffering from heart failure or emphysema. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Northwestern University’s medical center in Chicago was considering putting every patient with COVID-19 on “do not resuscitate” (DNR) status. This would mean that if their heart stops, no “code blue” is called; instead a time of death is noted.As of Friday afternoon, Thomas’s hospital was up to 110 confirmed cases. “Winter is coming,” as he put it. But Thomas maintains hope that a blanket DNR policy will not be necessary. “Assess, make decisions, reassess, make another decision. Repeat,” is how he described the coronavirus-treatment playbook to me. “We can do this … as long as we have PPE and vents.”[Kerry Kennedy Meltzer: I’m treating too many young people for the coronavirus]Although explicit, widespread rationing by health-care providers is unprecedented in the modern history of the United States, it is constantly happening around the world. “Our doctors face moral dilemmas and impossible choices every day,” said Doctors Without Borders’ Avril Benoit. “Even while COVID-19 is requiring reallocation of resources, we still have women who need emergency C-sections and children with malnutrition. We are converting trauma and burn clinics to care for the disease. You do the best you can with what you have. And many of our locations will not be able to do more than isolate people and provide palliative care.”Patients, too, make rationing decisions. Every time we weigh whether or not to go to the doctor or to take medication, we’re balancing costs and benefits. Many people—an estimated third of U.S. adults—also make decisions about what they want should they become very ill. In the form of advance directives, they give instructions about when medical professionals should extend their lives with so-called extraordinary measures, and when they shouldn’t.The directives can be elaborate or spare, but generally land on a spectrum between prioritizing comfort and prolonging life, should the two become mutually exclusive. The most common designations are “full code” and “DNR,” but directives can also get very specific. The options are not binary, care or none. A person who voluntarily designates as “DNR” won’t be abandoned—he or she would still get IV fluids, oxygen, and medication, especially for pain.[Read: How the coronavirus became an American catastrophe]After determining advance directives, you should share them with family members or friends who might be communicating with medical professionals on your behalf. Have nuanced conversations with people close to you about what you do or don’t want in various dire scenarios. This eases the burden on them.It eases the burden on the medical providers, as well. Too often, Lindsey says, a person is found unconscious by paramedics, is shocked back to life and brought to the hospital, or put on a ventilator, and only hours later a family member shows up with an advance directive that indicates that was not what the patient wanted. “This was a tragic and challenging scenario pre-COVID, particularly if an individual’s directives weren’t followed during that period of resuscitation,” he says. But in the midst of this pandemic, the delay puts “all the providers in the chain of care” at unnecessary risk of exposure. And it takes a ventilator out of use for someone who might have wanted it.As straightforward as it is to establish an advance directive and talk through what kind of care you want with your family, many of us avoid doing precisely that. Who wants to talk about the possibility of getting sick and dying? Thomas does. “I’m still a relatively young person, and my wife and I have that discussion relatively often,” he told me. “It should be had frequently, but especially now.”
theatlantic.com
Tippers give delivery drivers toilet paper in age of coronavirus
Toilet paper isn’t just for the tuchus anymore. In our coronavirus world, bending over backward to give someone the two-ply is a way to say thanks. TikTok user @evaneramagic earned over 840,000 likes and 7,000 comments when he posted a video on his account about tipping delivery drivers with GermX hand sanitizer and a 12-pack...
nypost.com
Album Sales Drop to Lowest Point During Coronavirus Pandemic
Billboard reported that physical album sales suffered the most due to COVID-19 restrictions, dropping 36 percent.
newsweek.com
Dr. Marc Siegel says America can beat coronavirus as White House sets new guidelines
The American health care system can beat coronavirus, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said Saturday.
foxnews.com
Staub makes the best Dutch oven on the market—and it's on sale
Staub makes the best Dutch oven we've ever tested and it's on sale for its lowest price at Williams Sonoma right now.       
usatoday.com
Why filling out the 2020 census is more important than you think
Every decade the US conducts a census, and while your reasons in the past for not filling it out have been pretty weak, you’re really out of excuses in 2020. Don’t have the time? You do. Thanks to the coronavirus quarantine, it’s either this or rewatch the whole of “The Office” for a third time....
nypost.com
When You’re From Wuhan, the U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Is Deja Vu
Some Wuhanese never thought it would reach here. Some thought it was only a matter of time.
slate.com
Trish Regan, Fox Business parts ways shortly after her coronavirus 'impeachment scam' comments
Trish Regan referred to the coronavirus as an "impeachment scam" on her March 9 show. She and Fox parted ways three weeks later.      
usatoday.com
'The Walking Dead' Princess Explained - Who's Episode 14's New Character?
"The Walking Dead" Season 10 episode 14 introduces the beloved comic book character Princess to the show. Here's everything we know about her based on the source material.
newsweek.com
The Olympics should use its postponement to totally reinvent the Games
One of the brutal casualties of the coronavirus is the Olympics, which has now been rescheduled for 2021 — although it will still be called “Tokyo 2020.” And while this postponement is clearly the correct decision, the fact it took the International Olympic Committee (IOC) so long to make the call, when all medical evidence...
nypost.com
Online push-up parties, virtual tours: College football coaches get creative in spring coronavirus shutdown
With spring practice shut down due to coronavirus, college football coaches find new ways to connect with players, including virtual tours of campus.       
usatoday.com
How Trump’s war on the coronavirus could win him re-election
It was a miserable time to make a re-election bid. When Abraham Lincoln sought his second presidential term in 1864, he was overseeing a bloody war, a bitterly divided nation, and a party that wanted to run him out of the White House. “He cannot be elected,” moaned Republican newspaper publisher Horace Greeley. “We must...
nypost.com
Europe's clocks go forward this weekend: Here's what you need to know
The clocks across Europe go forward on Sunday, March 29 as the continent moves to daylight saving time.
edition.cnn.com
Mia Farrow has finally succeeded in destroying Woody Allen — and we should be afraid
In the scorched-earth campaign to vanquish Woody Allen — a concerted effort to kill his career, destroy his reputation, to go after him with proverbial torches and pitchforks until he has no recourse except to shrivel up and play dead — the mob has spoken. Woody, 84, is a filthy child molester, the woke practitioners...
nypost.com
'Just one case': fears coronavirus may spread like wildfire in world's refugee camps
In the world’s largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh, filmmaker Mohammed Arafat has been making public safety videos to warn about the dangers of coronavirus.
reuters.com
Former Sen. Tom Coburn, physician who represented Oklahoma, dies at 72
Coburn, a physician, represented Oklahoma in the House and Senate. He died Saturday after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.       
usatoday.com
Woke stupidity is spreading as fast as the coronavirus pandemic
After 9/11 there was much talk of the “death of irony,” along with calls for mandatory national service and widespread support for the idea that it was time to put away childish things. Then Rudy Giuliani went on “Saturday Night Live,” Lorne Michaels asked him, “Can we be funny?” And Giuliani said, “Why start now?”...
nypost.com
Tom Coburn, a staunch conservative dubbed the 'Dr. No' of Congress, has died at 72
Tom Coburn, a former US congressman from Oklahoma and obstetrician, died at his home Saturday, according to a statement from his family. He was 72.
edition.cnn.com
Golf legend Davis Love III loses Georgia home in massive blaze: reports
Legendary golfer and sports broadcaster Davis Love III lost his Georgia home to a massive blaze Friday morning that left the structure completely burnt down, reports say. 
foxnews.com
China’s Wuhan — where coronavirus emerged — begins easing lockdown
Bringing life back to the city where the epidemic first erupted in December is a turning point in China's fight against the virus, which has sickened nearly 82,000 people in China and more than 600,000 worldwide.
nypost.com
Why NYC’s restaurant scene is guaranteed to bounce back from coronavirus
It won’t matter whether the shutdown ends by Easter 2020 or Easter 2021. Once the plague has passed, New York City will have as many places to eat as before, and as many seats, customers, chefs, cuisines, and employees who were, in the blink of an eye, stripped of their livelihoods three weeks ago. This...
nypost.com
Urn deliveries in Wuhan raise questions about China's actual coronavirus death toll
Massive deliveries of urns in Wuhan have raised fresh skepticism of China’s coronavirus reporting.
foxnews.com
Italy's coronavirus death toll inches towards 10,000. Many are asking why the fatality rate is so high
When Milan resident Antonia Mortensen was pulled over by police while driving recently, it wasn't for a traffic offense. It was to instruct her fellow passenger to sit in the back of the car and to check that both were wearing face masks.
edition.cnn.com
Carmelo Anthony shares story of LeBron James saving him in the ocean 'like MacGyver'
Carmelo Anthony shared an incredible story about how LeBron James saved him from the ocean during a vacation trip.        
usatoday.com
Tom Coburn, former Republican senator and Oklahoma physician, has died
Coburn earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick during his tenure in the Senate
cbsnews.com
'Kindness goes a really long way,' Lovely Dude says. Share your story of kindness here
The coronavirus crisis is bringing out the best in some of us, and readers have shared some of the scenes they've witnessed. Please tell us your story.
latimes.com
The Times' boys' basketball player of the year: Ziaire Williams
Ziaire Williams helped Sierra Canyon win the regional title with big playoff performances. He's been selected The Times' boys' basketball player of the year.
latimes.com
Introducing L.A.'s coronavirus testing czar. Can he fix a 'grossly inadequate' system?
L.A.'s new coronavirus testing czar. Can he fix a "grossly inadequate" system?
latimes.com
Alone on the Road, a Trucker’s Long Haul as America Fights the Virus
Darrell Woolsey does not know when he will go home to Wyoming and his wife and three children.
nytimes.com
U.S. Navy 'Headed Into Choppy Waters' as First At-Sea Coronavirus Outbreak Threatens Preparedness Against China, Iran
The U.S. Navy is scrambling to contain its first at-sea coronavirus outbreak after more than two dozen sailors tested positive aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.
newsweek.com
Coronavirus deaths in California top 100 as officials struggle to slow spread
The death toll from the coronavirus surpasses 100 in California as officials struggle to slow the spread through ever-increasing restrictions.
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latimes.com
Trump to send off USNS Comfort, hospital ship bound for New York City to aid with coronavirus response
The USNS Comfort will carry medical staff and supplies to New York, which is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.        
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usatoday.com
Former Sen. Tom Coburn, known as a political maverick, dies
Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit.
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politico.com
US Catholic bishops ease Lent obligations on eating meat amid coronavirus
Some Catholic bishops in the United States are easing the obligations of faithful for the last remaining Fridays during Lent amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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foxnews.com
The Times' girls' basketball player of the year: Juju Watkins
Juju Watkins, a 14-year-old freshman at L.A. Windward High, is The Times' girls' basketball player of the year.
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latimes.com
Football's financial situation with coronavirus
With the coronavirus in full swing around Europe, the sports world, and more specifically football, has come to a grinding halt. Patrick Snell takes a deeper look at the financial implications, both the money lost, and the money donated.
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edition.cnn.com
NYPD detective becomes first officer to die from coronavirus
An NYPD detective died after contracting coronavirus — the first officer to succumb to the disease, police sources told The Post. The 48-year-old crime fighter, who worked in the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, passed away Saturday morning at North Central Bronx Hospital, the sources said. The detective is the third member of the NYPD to...
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nypost.com
These L.A. County communities have coronavirus cases, and these don't
L.A. County has reported 26 coronavirus-related deaths, the most in the state. Here is the number of cases by community, including those with none.
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latimes.com
Trump says he won’t comply with key transparency measures in the coronavirus stimulus bill
President Trump at a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the White House on March 26, 2020. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images The administration says it won’t provide documentation for audits into $500 billion in corporate bailout funds. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent. In a statement released early Friday evening, Trump announced that he had signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19. That bill also establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Treasury Department to audit and investigate half a trillion dollars in loans for large businesses. In his signing statement, Trump said that this provision raises “constitutional concerns,” adding that his administration would not comply with such an official’s request for documents. “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause,” part of Article II Section 3 of the Constitution that states a sitting president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” This seems to suggest the administration believes it is the president’s duty and not that of an inspector general to ensure the funds are distributed as the law intends. The special inspector general, as authorized within the bill, would be able to request information from government agencies and report on failures to comply with those information requests. In his signing statement, Trump essentially stated that he will not let such reports reach Congress without his approval, which many fear directly undermines the provision’s goal of maintaining transparency in how that fund is handled. The $500 billion loan program was the biggest point of contention between Democratic and Republican lawmakers throughout the relief bill’s negotiation process. Democrats called this a “slush fund” that would give Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin broad authority to disburse the funds as he saw fit. The IG provision was intended as an accountability effort to alert Congress if the Trump administration was not complying with auditing measures. It was also meant to help ensure the president and his family did not directly benefit from the emergency funds through their businesses. The addition of this transparency language was what ultimately swayed some Democrat senators to vote for the bill. The bill also establishes a congressional oversight panel to examine the IG’s reports. Trump also said that he would not adhere to a second provision of the bill that would grant some congressional committee consultation for expenditures made by the State Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, and US Agency for International Development (USAID). “These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws,” Trump’s statement reads. The inspector general was put in place to make sure bailout funds helped the vulnerable The broader coronavirus relief package also guarantees direct cash payments to many adult workers, expands unemployment insurance, and provides $367 billion in loans to small businesses. But it was the inclusion of a $500 billion corporate loan program — which includes a guaranteed $50 billion for the airline industry — that proved a key sticking point in the bill’s negotiation. Earlier this week, Democrats blocked a version of the package that they said did not contain strong enough oversight over that fund. As Vox’s Emily Stewart reported, most Americans also backed some form of “guardrails” on those corporate bailout funds, such as ensuring that companies receiving bailout funds commit to not laying off workers. Last week, more than 3.3 million people filed for unemployment, shattering the previous record of about 700,000 claims in 1982. Without oversight of how the funds would be allocated, “what’s to stop an airline from using its bailout money to give its CEO a bonus instead of paying its workers?” Stewart wrote. “Or to prevent a major hotel chain from laying off workers while engaging in stock buybacks?” In addition to establishing an inspector general, the final bill passed on Friday also prohibits businesses controlled by administration officials, including the president, vice president and members of Congress, as well as their families, from receiving loans from that fund. Earlier last week, Trump declined to commit to exempting his business interests from bailout funds, telling reporters, “Let’s just see what happens.” Now, in his signing statement, Trump has made clear that he will decide what information about how the funds are being used Congress needs. This comes just months after the end of an impeachment inquiry into Trump that was sparked by another attempt by his administration to keep independent reports about its inner workings from reaching Congress. During the lead-up to what became Trump’s impeachment hearing, a whistleblower’s memo about a phone call with Ukrainian leadership should have, according to federal law, been reported to Congress by the director of national intelligence. It was not, but came to light in September nonetheless. Trump’s sharpest critics have already begun to raise the alarm about Trump’s plans to shrug off the new law’s transparency requirements. On Twitter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had earlier denounced the corporate fund, wrote, “This is a frightening amount of public money to have given a corrupt admin w/ 0 accountability.” It is clear that Covid-19 will have devastating effects on the economy. It’s “an economic tsunami,” one economist told Vox’s Ezra Klein, one that will affect businesses of all sizes and their employees. That includes the large companies that will benefit from the corporate fund. But allocating money to industries with little oversight to how it is being spent is not guaranteed to help the everyday workers, customers, and small-business owners expected to be most dramatically affected by the virus’s economic impact — it could, however, help the president and his businesses.
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vox.com