Covid 19 Prediction Warns It Hasn’t Gone Away

 

 

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With more than 2.06 million cases, America has the world’s largest COVID-19 confirmed cases to date. It’s also first when it comes to the total number of deaths, with more than 117,000 people having died of COVID-19 complications. Nearly 7.5 million people have had confirmed infections worldwide and over 420,000 people died.  As US states are opening up their economies, Harvard Global Health Institute director Dr. Ashish Jha predicts that the US will cross 200,000 deaths sometime in September.  Jha explained his estimates only take into account the next few months, but COVID-19 will obviously not disappear after that.

“The pandemic won’t be over in September so I’m really worried about where we’re going to be in the weeks and months ahead.  We’re really the only major country in the world that opened back up without really getting our cases as down low as we really needed to,” Jha noted, adding that the US is the only advanced country in the world not to have a proper contact tracing system setup. People should continue to maintain social distancing and wear masks, Jha advised. They should also “put pressure” on the government to advance testing and contact tracing programs.

“But even if we assume that it’s going to be flat all summer, that nothing is going to get worse, we’re going to stay flat all summer — even if we pick that low number, 800 a day — that’s 25,000 a month,” Jha pointed out. “In three and a half months, we’re going to add another 87- 88,000 people, and we will hit 200,000 sometime in September.”  Jha said anyone who still thinks the summer will bring a dramatic decrease in cases is “engaging in wishful thinking.” Coronavirus cases and associated hospitalizations may be falling in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, he said, but cases are surging in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas. The Harvard professor of public health said he is not trying to scare people into staying home by raising concerns about the number of deaths he’s predicting.

In Brazil, the coronavirus death toll has topped 43,000 with the total number of confirmed cases at over 850,000. It now has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the world behind the United States.  According to the health ministry, the COVID-19 mortality rate in Brazil is five% and nearly 388,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Brazil.

China reported its highest number of daily infections in months, raising concern over a second wave of the outbreak. In Beijing, authorities have reimposed lockdown measures after a new cluster of cases emerged last week.  The cluster, the capital’s first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months, raised mainland China’s total number to 83,132. Almost 4,700 people have died in China, where the pandemic originated in December.

The World Health Organization says the pandemic is accelerating in Africa, with the most affected countries being South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.  In Yemen, medical authorities warn deaths linked to the pandemic could exceed war-related fatalities in the port city of Aden.  The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and practice these actions to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Covid 19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so the recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the world’s economy reopens are:  Keep 6 feet of social distance between yourself and others; wear a mask or cloth covering when around others-especially when in situations where you can’t maintain the 6 feet of social distancing; clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; avoid close contact with people who are sick; disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly and stay home if you are feeling any symptoms.

Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

 

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Protests intensified in Atlanta after a police officer shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant.  The encounter was caught on surveillance camera and by a witness. Police approached Brooks after he had fallen asleep in his car. The police questioned Brooks, patted him down and gave him a breathalyzer test.  Witness videos, surveillance footage, bodycam and dashcam footage show the officers engaged Brooks without incident for 41 minutes before the encounter turned fatal.

Atlanta Police Department officer Devin Brosnan arrived at the Wendy’s restaurant to investigate a report of a man asleep in a car which was blocking the drive-through lane.  Brosnan awakened Brooks and told him to move the car to a parking space and take a nap.  Brooks fell asleep again without moving the car prompting Brosnan to again wake Brooks and instruct him to park the car.  Brosnan checked Brooks’s driver’s license and radioed for assistance from an officer certified to conduct driving under the influence investigations.  Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived at 10:56 and, with Brooks’s permission, performed a pat-down search for weapons, a field sobriety test, and a breathalyzer test.  Brooks appeared impaired and said he had consumed one to one-and-a-half drinks and denied driving or being too drunk to drive. The Breathalyzer registered a blood alcohol level of 0.108%, above the legal limit of 0.08%.  Brooks asked to leave his car in the parking lot overnight and walk to his sister’s house a short distance away.

At 11:23, Rolfe told Brooks: “All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving. Put your hands behind your back for me”; he and Brosnan then moved behind Brooks to handcuff him.  Brooks tried to break free and he and the officers scuffled on the ground. During the struggle Brosnan drew his Taser, but Brooks wrested from him and fired it toward Brosnan before attempting to run away.  Brosnan says the Taser contacted him and he struck his head on the pavement.  Rolfe drew his own Taser and shot Brooks with it.  Brooks fled through the parking lot with Brosnan’s Taser still in hand as Rolfe pursued him and fired again with his own Taser.  While still running, Brooks turned to fire the second shot of Brosnan’s Taser – capable of two shots before being reloaded – over Rolfe’s head.  According to prosecutors, Brooks and Rolfe were 18 feet apart when Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his handgun and shot Brooks once in the midback and once in the buttocks; a third shot struck a nearby vehicle, narrowly missing its three occupants.  According to prosecutors Rolfe then declared, “I got him”.

Within 24 hours of the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that she did not believe it was justified, leading to Rolfe’s firing, Brosnan being placed on administrative duty and the resignation of the city’s police chief, Erika Shields.  The county medical examiner rule Brooks’ death a homicide and Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation.  The Fulton County District Attorney said Brooks did not present himself as a threat and appeared almost jovial during the encounter.  He announced 11 charges against Rolfe: felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations, and damage to property.  He said Rolfe should have been aware that the Taser Brooks had taken posed no danger, as after being fired twice it could not fire again.  He also said that Rolfe and Brosnan did not provide timely medical aid to Brooks and that before they did, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders.  The district attorney said it was a violation of department policy for Rolfe to begin handcuffing Brooks before telling him he was being arrested.

Covid 19 Cases Continue To Rise After Reopening

 

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There are almost 8,000,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with over 420,000 deaths. As many countries open up again, the World Health Organization warned the situation is getting worse globally. Nearly 75% of recent cases came from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia, said the WHO. The WHO also said that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people appears to be rare.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic now with the highest tolls reported in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru — which together account for over 1 million confirmed cases. The WHO said Central and South America have likely not reached peak transmission yet. Cuba remains announced they are closing in on the tail end of the pandemic, where infections have been on the decline for two months.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in U.S. states that were among the first and most aggressive to reopen, leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a 7-day statewide pause on further reopening as health officials study the data and try to contain budding outbreaks. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge.
Recent data shows 21 states have seen an increase in their average daily new Covid 19 cases this week than in the previous week. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent. Hospitalizations have risen as well. For example, Arkansas has seen a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day.
Health officials warn that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the virus, as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week across the globe. CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
In light of this new evidence, 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. It is critical to emphasize 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.

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.

Two Men Arrested In Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

 

 

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Two months after the February shooting death of 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery, and just two days after video of the shooting was released to the public, the two men who gunned him down while he was jogging were arrested and charged for murder. The men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were each charged with murder and aggravated assault and booked into a jail in coastal Glynn County, Ga., where the killing took place. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in a news release, stated that it was Travis McMichael who shot and killed Mr. Arbery on Feb. 23.
The details of Mr. Arbery’s killing — and the fact that no one had been arrested in the months since it happened — led to a wave of outrage nationwide. Public pressure for an arrest intensified with the release of the video. The video of the shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man, Travis McMichael, standing beside its open driver’s-side door with a rifle in his hand. Gregory McMichael is standing in the bed of the pickup. Mr. Arbery runs around the other side of the truck to avoid Travis McMichael. As Travis approaches the front of his truck, muffled shouting can be heard before Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.
It’s during this struggle that Arbery was shot a point blank range by Travis McMichael. Arbery then attempts to run away but collapses face down in the street. Gregory, a retired Glynn County police officer, and his son Travis both claim they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest when they followed Arbery after seeing him enter a home under construction 2 doors down from their home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in break-ins and burglaries in the area despite no reports of any in the neighborhood.
The owner of the home said nothing has ever been taken from the property but people have entered before. He released dozens of surveillance videos of people entering the property including one of Arbery from minutes before he was shot. Arbery was inside the home for less than 3 minutes looking around before he exits to continue his run. The additional videos show many other people entering the property to look around, including neighborhood kids and a couple who entered the same day Arbery was killed but no other trespassers were confronted.
The Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr formally requested the intervention of the FBI in the case to investigate the killing after there were reports that Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said that no arrests should be made in the case and recused herself from further involvement in the case because Gregory McMichael had previously worked as an investigator in her office. The GBI found probable cause to charge Gregory and Travis McMichael within 36 hours of taking the case, and, on May 7, arrested the pair on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels were booked into the Glynn County Jail and were denied bond the following day.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and federal authorities to look into how local prosecutors possibly held crucial evidence of Arbery’s killing and refused to make arrests, as more than two months passed before the attackers were arrested. The Brunswick police reportedly had a copy of the shocking video but no arrests were made until 2 days after it was released to the public by a lawyer the McMichaels consulted with but did not retain.

FDA Issues EUA of Remdesivir For Severe Covid 19 Cases

 

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the emergency use authorization for the antiviral drug remdesivir, after preliminary results from a federal trial showed the drug could speed recovery in patients infected with the coronavirus. The finding, which has not yet been peer reviewed, came after another study found no benefit for the drug in severely ill patients in China. The new results suggest a moderate improvement in the death rate of patients taking remdesivir, whose hospital stays were shortened, on average, from 15 days to 11.

The issuance of an EUA is different than FDA approval. In determining whether to issue an EUA, the FDA evaluates the available evidence and carefully balances any known or potential risks of any unproven products with any known or potential benefits of making them available during the emergency.  Based on evaluation of the emergency use authorization criteria and the scientific evidence available, it was determined that it is reasonable to believe that remdesivir may be effective in treating COVID-19, and that, given there are no adequate, approved, or available alternative treatments, the known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus currently outweigh the known and potential risks of the drug’s use.

The emergency use authorization (EUA) allows for remdesivir to be distributed in the U.S. and administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. Severe disease is defined as patients with low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or more intensive breathing support such as a mechanical ventilator.

The EUA requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using remdesivir in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including dosing instructions, potential side effects and drug interactions.  The EUA is temporary and will be effective until the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of drugs and biologics for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is terminated.  It may be revised or revoked if it is determined the EUA no longer meets the statutory criteria for issuance.

Possible side effects of remdesivir include increased levels of liver enzymes, which may be a sign of inflammation or damage to cells in the liver; and infusion-related reactions, which may include low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and shivering.

The top coronavirus task force scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci welcomed news of the first potential treatment for COVID-19.  The U.S. government will coordinate the donation and distribution of remdesivir to hospitals in cities most heavily impacted by COVID-19. Given the severity of illness of patients appropriate for remdesivir treatment and the limited availability of drug supply, hospitals with intensive care units and other hospitals that the government deems most in need will receive priority in the distribution of remdesivir.

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.

 

Stay At Home Orders in the US

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Millions of U.S. residents are now under some sort of stay-at-home order in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.  There are now over 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — more than one-quarter of the reported total cases worldwide, though the actual numbers both in the U.S. and around the world are likely much higher due to limited testing.  Governors that were originally against stay-at-home orders finally succumbed last week after COVID-19 cases in their states increased rapidly.

There are still a few states that have not issued stay at home orders.  Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming have yet to issue any state-wide orders but they have a number of local directives suggesting residents stay indoors or have stay at home orders in place only in their harder hit counties.

For the other 95% of Americans, the states they call home slowly joined the majority to issue stay at home orders for all non-essential activities.  Just as governors issued stay-at-home orders on a rolling, piecemeal basis, they have done the same on the backend, with each governor setting his or her own time frame for lifting the order. Consequently, we have end dates spanning two months, from April 15 to June 10.  More than half of the states have already extended the end date of their original order and the new end date could be pushed back again as the pandemic unfolds.

Three Pacific coast states — California, Oregon and Washington — have formed an alliance called the “Western States Pact” that will reopen at the same time. They announced that they “have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies – one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business.”  California was the first to issue its order but within 3 days, Oregon and Washington followed suit.  All three states orders were issued with no set end date so their orders stay in place until further notice.

On the east coast, seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — have formed the “Multi-State Council” that will also reopen at the same time. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the council “will come up with a framework based on science and data to gradually ease the stay at home restrictions and get our economy back up and running.”  Many of these states with an end date on their original order issued extensions with new dates in May.

Two states have stay-at-home orders that are set to expire soon; Idaho (April 15) and Kansas (April 19). Both Idaho Governor Brad Little and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly have indicated that they will extend the orders.  Eight states’ orders are due to expire between April 20 and April 26. Indiana, Mississippi, Alaska, District of Columbia, Missouri, Montana, Wisconsin and Colorado are fast approaching their end dates.  Four governors — half of this group — have already issued one extension and several have stated they are planning another.

For the last week of April, 19 states are due to lift their stay-at-home mandates.  South Carolina, New York, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas have end dates at the end of April but again, more than half of the governors in this group have already extended the end dates for their orders once.

Nine states have stay-at-home orders that end May 4 or later. Notably, seven of them have already bumped back their end dates once, from April to May. If the trend continues, we can expect more states to be extending their mandates into May.

 

Supplies Depleting Fast For New York Healthcare Systems

 

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In New York City, the epicenter of the US crisis, the death toll from COVID-19 is over 4,500 and continuing to climb.  There have been more than 140,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus discovered in New York, including more than 76,876 in New York City.  Thirty-five percent of the confirmed cases in the US are in the state of New York.  Governor Andrew Cuomo warned state residents to expect a high death rate through July.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is dispatching more than 250 ambulances and 85 refrigerated trucks to New York to serve as temporary morgues.  In Central Park, an emergency field hospital began operations to treat spillover patients from nearby Mount Sinai Hospital.  Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly warned city hospitals are in dire need of millions of masks, hundreds of thousands of gowns and hundreds of ventilators, and are on the brink of running out of supplies.

Following complaints by health care workers about their inability to get tested for the coronavirus despite a colleague recently dying from COVID-19, the Mount Sinai hospital system in New York City will begin providing tests on Tuesday for any employee who shows symptoms of the disease. Mount Sinai will use PCR tests for anyone showing symptoms.  They will also administer a serum antibody test to anyone who was symptomatic.

The Justice Department and Department of Health and Human Services announced that hundreds of thousands of masks and other pieces of medical equipment seized from a Brooklyn man have been distributed to medical workers on the front lines treating novel coronavirus patients in New York and New Jersey.  According to the DOJ, the equipment seized and distributed includes roughly 192,000 N95 respirator masks, nearly 600,000 medical gloves, 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.  Prosecutors say 43-year-old Baruch Feldheim hoarded the supplies in order to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and was selling them to doctors and nurses at prices as much as 700% above market value.

Governor Cuomo said it’s unclear what will happen after New York hits its peak. Cases could begin dropping off or there could be more of a plateau effect, in which new cases and death rates remain flat.  Cuomo said the falling rate of infection will not be met with a slackening of social-distancing measures. Schools and nonessential business will remain closed at least until April 29 and there will be higher fines for people violating social-distancing rules. The maximum fine is now $1,000.

What You Need To Know About The Stimulus Payments

 

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The $2 trillion stimulus bill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was passed by the House.  The plan includes a one-time direct payment to Americans, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said should arrive within three weeks. Individuals will receive up to $1,200, married couples will get up to $2,400 and $500 will be added for every child.  You don’t need to apply for the checks. The money will automatically be transferred directly to the bank account you included in your most recent tax return. If the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information, you’ll get a check in the mail.  People receiving nontaxable income would still get checks and those receiving Social Security benefits.  Anyone behind on child support payments will not receive any payments.

There are income restrictions: If you earn more than $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a couple, the total amount you’re eligible to receive starts to decrease. If you earn $99,000 or more as an individual or $198,000 as a couple, you aren’t eligible to receive a stimulus check.  The more you earn, the less money you’ll get. If you earn $75,000 or less as an individual, you’ll get the full $1,200. If you earn more than that, $5 will be subtracted for every additional $100 of income. (The checks phase out completely if you earn $99,000 or more.) The same sliding scale applies for couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000.

The IRS extended the federal income tax filing due date from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020 but this deadline did not extend to state income taxes.  For those who have already filed 2018 and 2019 taxes and whose information is up to date and accurate, there’s no need to do anything at all.  If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, they will use the 2018 return.  The IRS is urging people to not wait to file their taxes and to file electronically.  Filing now will give them the most up to date information to get stimulus payments out.  They encourage anyone with a tax filing obligation who hasn’t filed a tax return for 2018 or a previous year to act now.  This step is especially important for low-income Americans who don’t typically file taxes. In that case, they would still need to file a form.

Taxpayers can defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.