April 10 coronavirus news
People in New York who have died from the coronavirus and not been claimed by anyone could be buried on Hart Island, east of the Bronx, officials told CNN today.
“For decades, Hart Island has been used to lay to rest decedents who have not been claimed by family members. We will continue using the Island in that fashion during this crisis and it is likely that people who have passed away from Covid-19 who fit this description will be buried on the Island in the coming days,” said NYC Mayor Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein.
“These are people who, for two weeks, we have not been able to find anyone who says ‘I know that person, I love that person, I will handle the burial,’” she said. “These are people who we have made zero contact with the family.”
If morgue officials make contact with a relative of a deceased person within 14 days, the body will not be moved to Hart Island, said Goldstein. This is part of the city’s plan to ensure they have morgue space during the pandemic.
Prison inmates won't be tasked with burying people on Hart Island, as they once were, said the Department of Corrections Press Secretary on Tuesday. Inmate labor on the island has been suspended for social distancing purposes.
The US Food and Drug Administration is warning InfoWars founder and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to take down a number of products advertised on his site as possible treatments for the coronavirus.
These products include the “SuperSilver Whitening Toothpaste,” the “SuperSilver Wound Dressing Gel” and “Superblue Fluoride Free Toothpaste,” the FDA said in a letter to Jones.
The products are "unapproved new drugs" and are "misbranded drugs" in violation of FDA regulations, said the letter.
It requested that Jones “take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.”
Jones has 48 hours to respond. Failure to comply could “result in legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction," warned the letter.
History of misinformation: Jones has previously suggested that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a "giant hoax" carried out by crisis actors on behalf of people who oppose the Second Amendment.
InfoWars has also suggested the September 11 attacks were an inside job orchestrated by the US government.
The effectiveness of homemade masks is "not possible to assess" at this time, said the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in a letter to the White House on Wednesday.
The National Academies offered guidance about the country’s recommendation that people wear homemade masks to protect from the spread of coronavirus when an individual is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.
How well masks work depend on how they are made, the quality of production, and on how well the person follows other precautionary behaviors, said the letter.
How coronavirus spreads: Researchers believe Covid-19 primarily spreads via large droplets, such as when someone coughs or sneezes. But it is also believed to spread via invisible droplets, as small as 5 microns – and even smaller bioaerosol particles �� that can be expelled when an infected person breathes.
How much these tiny particles can spread the disease is unknown, the letter says.
Studies on the effectiveness of homemade masks are limited: One unpublished study showed that thicker masks worked better, but one mask that was tested was so thick it would “cause great discomfort” and may cause the wearer to pass out.
There were no studies on how well homemade masks fit, the letter said. An ill-fitting mask may leak. And if a person sweats, the moisture could trap the virus and become a potential contamination source.
Another experiment looking at masks made from sweatshirts, t-shirts, towels, scarves and cloth masks found that they reduced some low-level protection against nanoparticles from someone breathing, but not from aerosolized infection.
The US federal government will still fund and staff some state coronavirus testing sites if needed, Vice President Mike Pence said at a task force briefing today.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to transition from community-based testing sites to a state-led operation. States will have the option to manage their own sites, but can also request the federal government to play a role.
So far, New Jersey, Louisiana, Illinois, Colorado and Texas have requested "continued federal participation," said Pence.
"We want to assure people and communities all across the country that we'll continue to partner with states to the extent that they prefer us to be a part of it," he added.
CNN earlier reported that the move has received mixed reactions from states. While some localities may need federal support, others have already moved toward managing their own sites.
FEMA said in a statement to CNN that it was working to "transition these sites to become state-managed by this Friday, April 10,” adding that the “federal government is poised to ensure states are fully supported until they are ready to take over management."
As Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected late last year, leaves lockdown this week, much of the rest of the country is also relaxing controls.
But there's one area where restrictions are being ramped up: the internet.
Censorship authorities announced this week a renewed campaign "targeting online pornography and illegal publications to create a healthy social and cultural environment."
Anti-porn crackdowns have a long history of being used to go after political speech, and a state media report on the latest clean up left little doubt this will be the case again.
"The campaign will also clear up illegal and harmful publications for children, blackmailing by fake journalists and unauthorized news outlets and copyright infringement," state-run news agency Xinhua said.
This comes after weeks of ramped up censorship of topics relating to the coronavirus and the authorities' handling of the pandemic, despite widespread criticism of how such stifling of discussion may have helped spread the virus in the first place.
New Zealand has recorded its second death from Covid-19 and an increase in new cases, said Public Health Director Caroline McElnay in a press conference today.
The fatality is a 90-year-old woman in Christchurch.
After four consecutive days of decreasing new daily cases, New Zealand reported 44 new cases today, up from 29 new cases yesterday.
Fourteen of the 44 cases are linked to existing clusters.
This brings the national total to 1,283, which includes confirmed and probable cases.
“The increase we have seen have been a number of cases that have been linked to clusters and we do expect our clusters to see a bit of ongoing transmission," said McElnay.
She warned that the country is “not out of the woods yet” and acknowledged this weekend would be a test.
“This is an Easter unlike other Easters. But I really want to re-emphasize the Prime Minister's message that this is a time for us all to get behind the country and stay at home over Easter,” she said.
The US now has at least 462,135 cases of the coronavirus and 16,513 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all cases repatriated from abroad.
Wyoming is the only state or territory that has not yet reported a death from coronavirus.
Alaska is the latest state to extend school closures through the remainder of the academic year.
“We're trying to give as much certainty as we can to the public. To wait another two or three weeks when we’re already close to the (end of the) school year at that point, we feel would cause more disruption and more confusion,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy in a press conference today.
The state is also extending its social distancing order for another ten days, effective through at least April 21.
“We wanted to make sure we continue that we continue the good work that all Alaskans are doing," said Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.
Twenty five more detainees at the Cook County Jail in Chicago have tested positive for Covid-19, raising the total number of cases among inmates to 276, said the Cook County Sheriff’s Office today.
Of these infected detainees, 21 have been hospitalized and 36 have been moved to a recovery facility. One has died of “apparent” complications, but an autopsy remains pending.
172 employees at the county sheriff’s office also tested positive, with the majority of employees being correctional deputies at the jail.
Releasing detainees: The sheriff’s office said today that they will continue help identify individuals for release. This process has already reduced the jail population by 1,247 detainees since March 9.
But also today, a federal judge denied a motion to order the immediate release of medically vulnerable detainees at the jail to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Instead, here's what they're doing: There will be a mobile testing site at the jail for sheriff's office staff, capable of testing up to 100 people a day, said Sheriff Thomas Dart.
Jail officials say they have moved inmates from double cells to single cells to increase social distancing, and have created an off-site 500-bed quarantine and care facility for detainees.