A version of this story appeared in the April 8 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
On the most tragic day yet of the pandemic in America, chaos and confusion roiled the White House. As coronavirus deaths topped 1,800 nationwide yesterday, President Donald Trump delivered a wild performance that did little to put minds at ease, Stephen Collinson writes.
At an unchained news conference, Trump said he would freeze funding for the World Health Organization – which he falsely accused of downplaying the pandemic – then denied saying it minutes later. Trump also denied seeing January memos from a top adviser warning about the gruesome toll the virus could exact on the country, and ousted the top watchdog overseeing a $2 trillion relief package.
Adding to the sense of farce: The White House Press Secretary was replaced — without ever delivering a press briefing — by a high-profile Republican communicator who has repeatedly dismissed the threat of the virus, and claimed Democrats were rooting for it to take hold. Meanwhile, Trump’s acting Navy Secretary quit after calling the captain of a virus-stricken aircraft carrier “stupid.”
The World Health Organization has defended its response to the pandemic and warned that politicizing the crisis will result in “many more body bags,” countering criticisms leveled at it by President Donald Trump.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Will the virus disappear this summer?
Q: Is it too early to be planning future travel?
New research has suggested that school closures alone may only have a small effect on stopping coronavirus — preventing 2% to 4% of deaths, far fewer than other social distancing interventions. But some experts have warned against jumping to conclusions based on one study.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Coronavirus warship row
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned yesterday, after a leaked recording revealed he called the ousted commander of a virus-stricken aircraft carrier “stupid” in front of thousands of sailors who had given their former captain a standing ovation when he left the ship just days before.
New York cases didn’t come from China
UK gripped as PM remains in intensive care
Boris Johnson has spent a second night in an intensive care unit in a London hospital. His spokesperson said yesterday he was stable, was receiving the “standard oxygen treatment,” and was not on a ventilator.
The Prime Minister’s hospitalization comes at a terrible time for the United Kingdom. The government needs to make a decision soon on whether to extend its lockdown, originally scheduled to be in place until April 13. And while official statistics say more than 6,000 people have died of the virus in the UK, new data suggest the death toll could be much higher.
QR code is ticket out of Wuhan
After more than two months under lockdown, people can finally travel out of the Chinese city of Wuhan starting today. Trains and flights are resuming, except to and from the capital Beijing.
To travel, people will still need to flash their all-important QR code on their phone. If it’s green, they’ve been assessed as healthy or low-risk and they can leave the city.
ON OUR RADAR
- A hopeful development in Italy — yesterday, there was a record daily increase (2,099) in the number of people who recovered from the virus.
- Spain’s Prime Minister says the country has “reached the peak” of its coronavirus outbreak and could soon consider easing lockdown measures.
- Some rare good news amid the world’s worst humanitarian crisis: Saudi Arabia has declared a ceasefire in Yemen, citing coronavirus fears.
- With only one Covid-19 death, New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve, it’s squashing it — but experts say it’s too early to celebrate.
- A billionaire art collector is distributing 10 million face masks via free vending machines in Hong Kong.
- Prince William and Kate made a special Easter video call to a UK school which is staying open for the children of healthcare workers. They wished they had worn their bunny ears.
- If the banana bread pics flooding social feeds hadn’t already tipped you off, baking can significantly reduce stress. These are some of the comfort foods people are turning to right now.
- It’s that time of year again: Allergy season. Respiratory inflammation caused by allergies can make you more susceptible to the virus, but there are things you can do now to help your lungs.
- Fast-approaching holidays like Passover, Easter and Ramadan have put a spotlight on the challenges of social distancing. These are some strategies to cope with the mental toll of living our lives apart.
“This virus actually is ultra-lethal for black communities because it is an epidemic jumping on top of other epidemics … (like) hypertension, high blood pressure.” — CNN Commentator Van Jones
CNN’s Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down the various factors and demographics that may make some people and communities more susceptible to the virus. Listen now.