Covid 19 Cases In States Since Reopening

 

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There are now over 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 325,000 known deaths around the world. Over 2 million people around the world have recovered from the virus. Despite the US having less than 5% of the world’s population, there are almost 1.5 million confirmed cases with over 100,000 deaths, representing over one-quarter of all fatalities and almost one-third of the confirmed cases. Over 450,000 people have recovered from Covid 19 but there are now cases in the US of people that have been re-infected, meaning they did not develop antibodies to build immunity with their first infection.
Forty-eight states will be at least partially reopened this week as health experts continue to warn of the danger of a hasty end to lockdowns. Each state has their own guidelines on what businesses have reopened and a timeline on further openings. There are 17 states that have seen an uptick in new cases since reopening. Officials from the World Health Organization say those who ignore measures such as social distancing are at risk of seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus. They also advise people to wear face masks when they are in groups. While coronavirus generally doesn’t spread outdoors as easily as it does indoors, there’s still a risk with any cramped crowd — especially because the virus can spread by just talking.
A cluster of new cases emerged after a swim party in Arkansas. In Atlanta, several recent prep school graduates also tested positive for the coronavirus, including one who had friends over for a graduation party. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed new COVID-19 cases are predominantly coming from people leaving their homes to shop, exercise or socialize. Meanwhile, in California, Orange County’s coronavirus cases continue to mount, with over 4,000 cases reported. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Texas, with 1,800 new infections reported last Saturday — the highest single-day increase in Texas so far. South Dakota has also seen a spike in cases since reopening.
Some states are now seeing drops in the number of confirmed cases. New Jersey, one of few states that had one of the strictest and longest stay at home orders, has seen a decrease in cases. This appears to be relatively bright news for hard-hit New Jersey, second in the country only to New York for the number of total reported cases with over 143,600 confirmed and over 10,000 deaths.
Missouri also saw a drop in cases when they began allowing all businesses to reopen May 4, but then an increase during the second week of reopening. Businesses were allowed to reopen provided they could abide by certain social distancing guidelines. Indoor retail businesses must limit their number of customers to no more than 25% of normal capacity, and local communities can choose stricter rules if they choose. Missouri has over 11,000 cases and over 600 deaths. Idaho, which only has around 2,500 cases, also saw a decrease in reported cases.
As each state opened, many leaders stressed the importance of following the social distancing guidelines but left responsibility up to it’s’ citizens. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. They say that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Stay At Home Orders Ending Across the US

 

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Many Governors across the US are ending stay at home order- many of which have been in place for over a month.  Reopening states to business is a difficult and controversial topic. Should states reopen too early, coronavirus cases may spike again, undoing the good social distancing did for weeks. Should they continue to stay closed, small businesses across the state may never recover and fiscal crises could severely damage many states.

Here are the states with orders set to expire:

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy allowed nonessential businesses to reopen for regular business hours, with varying restrictions by sector, on April 24. Many travel and fishing restrictions have also been lifted.  Alabama Gov. Brian Kemp said businesses like gyms, hair salons and barber shops could open on April 24 with theaters and restaurants reopening on April 27.  Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson never put an official stay-at-home order in place and has announced he hopes to ease some closures on May 4 with an announcement on when restaurants can accept dine-in customers on April 29.

Colorado’s stay-at-home order expired on April 27, moving to a new phase which allows retail businesses to do curbside pickup, other businesses can reopen with medical precautions and elective surgeries may resume. Businesses such as salons, dog groomers, personal trainers and elective medical services will be allowed to open May 1. On May 4, offices may reopen with 50% capacity.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced his plan to reopen the state beginning on May 1 and proceeding with four steps through June 13.  The first phase would allow most retail establishments and places of worship to reopen, subject to strict social distancing guidelines.  Indiana Gov. Mike Holcomb said elective surgeries may resume April 27 and he planned to lessen restrictions in early May.

Iowa has not had a stay-at-home order since April 20 and Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted the ban on nonessential surgeries beginning April 27.  Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she is moving forward with the goal of reopening the state on May 3 if crucial guidelines are in place.  Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has projected May 4 as a reopening date.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is not extending the state’s stay-at-home order, set to expire on May 4. On that day, all businesses may reopen following social distancing guidelines.  The mayors of Kansas City and St Louis have stay at home orders with end dates of May 15, which will supersede the state wide order and remain in effect for several counties.  Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said the state’s stay-at-home order will be expire on May 3rd and certain nonessential businesses can begin to reopen beginning April 27.

Ohio’s stay-at-home order will expire May 1.   Health procedures that do not require an overnight stay in the hospital may resume as well as dental and veterinary services. On May 4, manufacturing, distribution, construction and office work can resume with increased distancing and other health measures. On May 12, retail and other services may resume. Besides that, the stay-at-home order remains in place and gatherings are still limited to fewer than 10 people.

Oklahoma will lift restrictions on barber shops, nail salons, spas, elective surgeries and state parks on April 24. Movie theaters, gyms and restaurants will be allowed to reopen May 1.  Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a phased reopening set to begin on May 8.  Tennessee’s stay-at-home order would expire on April 30.

On May 1, Texas will allow retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls and museums and libraries to operate at 25% capacity. However in rural counties with few cases, businesses can operate at 50% capacity. The target date for Phase 2 is May 18.  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a plan to reopen businesses no earlier than May 4 on contingencies of a slowing of the spread of the virus.

Delaware, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont have orders set to expire on May 15.  New York will also reopen portions of the state on May 15.  Connecticut’s stay at home expires on May 20.  Wisconsin’s order will expire on May 26. Hawaii’s order will expire on May 30.  California, New Jersey, Utah and West Virginia have no end dates to their orders.

 

Coronavirus Continues to Spread

 

 

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As concerns about the coronavirus rippled across the globe, the US president declared the Covid-19 outbreak a national emergency as public life in America continues to grind to a halt.   Schools have closed to millions of students, creating anxiety for working parents across the country. Travel bans have been widened and some cities across America have issued curfews or “shelter in place” orders to slow the spread of the virus.  More “shelter in place” orders are expected as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise and has now been found in all 50 states.  

Shelter in place orders will come from local government rather than federal.  A growing number of countries have also imposed lockdowns that effectively shut down public life, but the details of such lockdowns vary dramatically.  Italy banned all public gatherings and set a 6 p.m. curfew but allowed travel for work or health reasons, while in China, millions of residents are restricted from even going to shop for groceries.  

The “shelter-in-place” order that San Francisco adopted has fairly large exemptions for health, work, food and even exercise.  City officials ordered residents to remain in place at their homes except for essential activities, essential business, and essential government functions, including tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor or getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home.

 

The order also includes:

  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running provided that they maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Caring for a family member in another household.
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

 

 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined a variety of potential proposals to Senate Republicans as part of a legislative package to help Americans and industries that are reeling from the coronavirus.  The administration proposed an initial $250 billion could be sent to Americans as early as the end of April if it can muster congressional approval.  

Sen. John Thune noted that getting cash assistance to Americans is something that has historically taken some time, but “I think there are ways now electronically that you can process things more quickly.” The proposal has fairly widespread support from Senate Republicans, who say it will offer immediate assistance to Americans impacted by the virus. Some lawmakers have varying ideas about how the proposal should work, including who should receive the payments and how much each American should get. 

Three Baltimore Men Freed After 36 Years

 

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Three Baltimore men who spent 36 years in prison were released after authorities say they were falsely convicted of a 1983 murder.  Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were granted a writ of innocence after being convicted of first-degree murder of a middle school student, DeWitt Duckett.   According to police, Duckett, 14, was shot and killed for his coveted Georgetown University basketball jacket in November 1983.

Chestnut has maintained his innocence since his arrest and the parole board denied his early release in part because he refused to admit responsibility for the shooting, the state’s attorney said.  After he filed an information request this past spring, he discovered new evidence that was kept from his attorneys during trial. He reached out to Baltimore’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which was reviewing old convictions.

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Chestnut and Watkins were 16 at the time of their arrest and Stewart was 17.  The three teenagers had been skipping high school classes to visit former teachers at Harlem Park Junior High. Their teachers said they were being “silly,” but not threatening. School security escorted them off campus about half an hour before the murder occurred, according to a joint petition filed by the men and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Watkins lawyer said the three teenagers were each arrested Thanksgiving morning, waking up with police with guns drawn on them.  They were convicted based on witness testimony and what prosecutors at the time said was a crucial piece of evidence — a Georgetown jacket found in Chestnut’s bedroom.  Chestnut’s jacket had no blood or gunshot residue and his mother was able to produce a receipt.  A store clerk also testified that she had purchased it recently, the joint petition said.

Lawyers involved in the case said they were “horrified” to see the amount of exculpatory evidence that was hidden from the defense team and jury.  Both the suspects and trial witnesses, all minors, were interrogated by police without their parents.  Potential witnesses were interviewed in a group and told to “get their story together,” according to Chestnut’s lawyers.  Anonymous calls identifying another shooter were kept from the defense, Mosby said. That teenager was seen after the shooting wearing what appeared to be Duckett’s jacket and confessing to the murder, she said.  That suspect has since died and all trial witnesses have since recanted.  “We have intentional concealment and misrepresentation of the exculpatory evidence, evidence that would have showed that it was someone else other than these defendants,” Mosby said.

Mosby apologized to the men “I don’t think that today is a victory, it’s a tragedy. And we need to own up to our responsibility for it,” Mosby said. “There’s no way we can repair the damage to these men, when 36 years of their life were stolen from them.  You were all arrested on Thanksgiving 1983. Now you are free to spend the holidays with your loved ones for the first time in 36 years,” Mosby said in a press conference.  The men are now in their early fifties preparing to enter adulthood on the outside for the first time and at least two have never driven a car before.  Now, late in life, they will experience a world very different from the one they were barred from since their teens.

Supreme Court Clears Way for Newtown Lawsuit

 

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The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by gun manufacturer Remington Arms, that argued it should be shielded by a 2005 federal law preventing most lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when their products are used in crimes.  The decision has cleared the way for survivors and the families of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to pursue their lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used to kill 26 people.

The families are arguing that Remington violated Connecticut law when it marketed the Bushmaster rifle for assaults against human beings. The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case allows the lawsuit filed in Connecticut state court by a survivor and relatives of nine victims who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012, to go forward.  The lawsuit says the Madison, North Carolina-based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the public.

Gunman Adam Lanza used it to kill 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 along with six educators, after killing his mother at the home they shared.  The rifle used in the killings was legally owned by his mother.  The lawsuit also alleges Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. Lanza was 20 years old when he committed the mass shooting.  Only two of the victims who were shot by Lanza—both teachers—survived the attack.  Lanza killed himself as police arrived at the school.

The case is being watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and gun manufacturers across the country, as it has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue the makers of firearm.  The National Rifle Association, 10 mainly Republican-led states and 22 Republicans in Congress were among those urging the court to jump into the case and end the lawsuit against Remington.

The Connecticut Supreme Court had earlier ruled 4-3 that the lawsuit could proceed for now, citing an exemption in the federal law. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The federal law has been criticized by gun control advocates as being too favorable to gun-makers. It has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun-makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.

GM Strike Ends

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After a 40-day strike, a new four-year deal between the United Auto Workers and General Motors was approved.  The contract was supported by 57% of the labor union. It includes an $11,000 bonus per member, annual raises and more affordable healthcare. General Motors still plans to close three factories in the United States.

The United Auto Workers union emerged with substantial wage increases of 3 percent in the second and fourth years and 4 percent lump sum payments in the first and third years, similar to what the union obtained in 2015.  Even larger gains are in store for those in a category called “in progression,” the lower scale of a two-tier wage system negotiated in 2007 when the Detroit automakers were financially reeling.

Workers hired after that date, about a third of the overall work force, started at about half the pay of veteran employees and had no prospect of reaching the top wage, currently $31 an hour. Over the course of the new contract, the disparity will be phased out, and those with four years’ experience will rise along with more senior workers to the new top level of $32 an hour.  In addition to pay increases, G.M. workers will get bonuses of $11,000 for ratifying the contract. They will continue to pay 3 percent of their cost of health care, well below the percentage that G.M.’s salaried workers contribute.

There were also rewards for temporary workers, about 7 percent of G.M.’s union work force, who will have a path to permanent employment after three years. About 900 of them will become full employees in January, the union said, and 2,000 more by 2021.

It also won commitments to new G.M. investments in United States factories.  As part of the new contract, the company pledged to invest $7.7 billion in its United States plants, and another $1.3 billion in ventures with partners, providing a measure of job security. G.M. will put $3 billion toward overhauling the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which had been scheduled to close in January. Three-quarters of the 700 workers there voted in favor of the contract.

At the same time, the agreement allows G.M. to close three idled factories permanently, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, eliminating excess manufacturing capacity at a time when auto sales are slowing. It also puts the company in a more stable position if the economy goes into a recession.  The closing of the Lordstown plant was one of the main sticking points for some workers voting against the contract. “We did everything that G.M. ever asked of us at times of concessions,” said Bill Goodchild, a member of Local 1112 in Lordstown. “We feel we deserve a product.”

About 48,000 United Auto workers walked off the job over one month ago, making it the longest national strike at GM by United Auto Workers in nearly 50 years.  The contract finally ends a strike that many estimate has cost GM $1.75 billion in losses.  “We delivered a contract that recognizes our employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company,” G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said in a statement.

 

 

Boeing CEO Testifies Before Congressional Committees

 

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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified before a pair of congressional committees for the first time since two deadly crashes of 737 MAX airliners, which killed a combined 346 people. His testimony follows a report in the Washington Post that top Boeing executives failed to intervene after two top pilots at the company identified problems with automated flight control software that would lead to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The Justice Department is also conducting criminal investigation against Boeing.  Muilenburg admitted Boeing failed to provide pilots with additional key safety system information.

During the hearing, Muilenburg acknowledged for the first time that he had been briefed, prior to the second crash, of messages from a test pilot who had raised safety concerns about the 737 Max. Boeing said it gave those messages to the Department of Justice in early 2019, but only alerted the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress to the existence of those messages in the past few weeks.

The House Transportation Committee released a redacted copy of a 2015 email in which a Boeing expert questioned making the flight system called MCAS depend on just one sensor to measure the plane’s pitch — its “angle of attack,” or AOA.  Boeing went ahead with the single-sensor design, with no backup to prevent MCAS from pushing the plane into a dive. Investigators believe faulty readings from a single sensor triggered nose-down commands before both crashes.  Muilenburg explained changes Boeing is making to the Max and other steps it is taking to improve safety. He conceded that the company “made some mistakes” in designing MCAS and telling regulators and pilots about the system.

Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also focused on why Boeing decided to only have one sensor on the outside of the plane, with no back-up, to alert pilots when the angle of the aircraft was off. They also asked why the plane’s safety system only gave pilots four seconds to react to take back control of the plane if a malfunction occurred.   While acknowledging that Boeing planned to make fixes to the craft, some lawmakers also questioned why the company took so long to come to that conclusion.  “We would do it differently if we knew what we know today,” Muilenburg said.

Several committee members pressed the CEO to make more changes in the aftermath of the crash, including giving up some of the $15 million in pay and bonus he received last year, out of $23 million in total compensation for 2018.  Boeing successfully lobbied regulators to keep any explanation of the system, called MCAS, from pilot manuals and training. After the crashes, the company tried to blame the pilots, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut.  “Those pilots never had a chance,” Blumenthal said. Passengers “never had a chance. They were in flying coffins as a result of Boeing deciding that it was going to conceal MCAS from the pilots.”

Representative Albio Sires also read a worker email sent to the head of Boeing’s 737 production team in mid-2018 that claimed high production goals were straining workers and increased the potential for mistakes. “For the first time in my history with Boeing I would be hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane,” wrote the veteran Boeing employee.  Muilenburg said he only became aware of the worker’s concerns after the Lion Air 737 Max crash October 29. He said the 737 production line was working at a “high rate” at the time and the issues raised by the now-retired employee had been investigated and addressed.  Boeing, in fact, never cut back the production of the planes, despite the concerns.