May 6 coronavirus news
The Japanese government is facing a public backlash after it promoted “new social behavior” guidelines on Monday, as a state of emergency implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus was extended until May 31.
Speaking at a news conference, an expert panel said the rate of new cases was on the decline in Japan -- but emergency measures would remain in place and the new guidelines should become the norm, as an uptick in infections would overwhelm hospitals.
New normal: The panel stressed the need to permanently adopt measures such as wearing face masks outside, keeping 2 meters (6.5 ft) between people, teleworking as much as possible, avoiding crowded spaces and washing hands regularly with soap in the long-term fight against the virus.
Backlash ensues: The advice, however, prompted criticism on social media. Many people commented that the new guidelines were obvious and that it was patronizing to try to enforce them.
One new recommendation made on Monday for people eating in restaurants to sit outside, side-by-side while keeping conversation to a minimum, triggered the biggest adverse reaction.
“I’m dumbfounded ... There are no other experts urging this kind of advice in the world -- just experts in Japan. It’s like they studied the virus, but not human behavior. What’s scarier than the virus is ignorant people giving society guidance on how to tackle it,” said one Twitter user.
Others, however, preferred to err on the side of caution. One Twitter user posted images of people eating out alone and children at elementary schools eating lunch at their desks with a protective shield around each of them.
“Taiwan and South Korea beat coronavirus and they’ve already been enforcing the measures in the photographs -- we might as well do the same. Wearing masks or eating alone isn’t expensive and it doesn’t infringe on human rights either,” the Twitter user said.
On Tuesday, the Japanese government said it would reevaluate the need to maintain the state of emergency on a weekly basis, according to public broadcaster NHK.
For the first time in its history, New York City’s entire subway system is scheduled to be closed Wednesday morning.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is starting a deep cleaning to avoid spread of the coronavirus.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said in a late night news conference on Tuesday.
The cleanings will be done on a nightly basis, starting from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday. When the cleaning is done, every single subway car will be disinfected.
“This is critical to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers,” said Foye.
To accommodate the loss of train service, the MTA is adding several hundred buses to its typical overnight routes to make sure essential workers have access to transportation.
Subway officials warned New York residents that there may be hiccups in executing the unprecedented closure.
“If this were a normal moment, we would have planned this for months,” New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said.
Tyson Foods, one of the world's biggest meat producers, is resuming limited operations at a facility in Waterloo, Iowa, tomorrow.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities,” said Tom Hart, plant manager of the Waterloo facility, in a news release.
The company, which employs roughly 100,000 workers, closed its pork plants in Waterloo, and Logansport, Indiana, in April so workers could be tested for the coronavirus.
The Waterloo plant closure came after weeks of public pressure. Production had already slowed there because many of its 2,800 workers had been calling out sick, and local health authorities linked the Tyson plant to 182 cases -- nearly half of the county's total.
The situation was so severe that the US meat supply could be at risk, said John Tyson, chairman of the Tyson board, in late April.
The past week has seen Tyson facilities slowly reopen across the country. The company's pork plant in Perry, Iowa, resumed operations on Monday after being closed for coronavirus testing -- making the Waterloo facility the last pork plant with fully suspended operations.
The facility's reopening will come with a host of new safety measures, like daily clinical screenings and an onsite clinic with nurse practitioners. All the workers returning to the facility have been tested for the virus, and all those who tested positive will stay on sick leave until cleared for work by health officials, said the company's news release.
Thousands of students are going back to school today in Wuhan -- the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
The central Chinese city was placed under strict lockdown in January to arrest the spread of the virus, with nobody allowed in or out, and movement limited within the city. The restrictions began lifting in early April, with borders opening, domestic travel resuming, and some businesses allowed to reopen.
Students return: A total of 57,800 students will return to class in Wuhan today, according to a statement from Hubei province authorities. Some 121 schools in the city are reopening, including 83 high schools and 38 vocational schools.
High school seniors will be the first to return, as they need to prepare for the "gao kao," China’s university exam. It's typically held on June 7-8 each year, but was postponed this year to July 7-8 due to the coronavirus. Younger high school grades will slowly return in phases.
The official said the task force "will be phased down around Memorial Day. We will continue to have key medical experts advising (President Donald Trump) daily and accessible to press throughout the coming months ahead."
The New York Times first reported the White House's plan to wind down the task force.
The move would quash the most visible nerve center for the federal government's response to the virus. But a senior administration official told CNN to expect members of the task force to still be involved in conversations with governors and industry leaders because the White House is aware that leaders still want to hear from doctors as they reopen their states and businesses.
This comes just after the the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected a doubling of US deaths -- to 134,000 by August 4 -- and an increased daily death toll.
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The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3.6 million people globally and killed at least 257,000. If you're just joining us now, here are the latest developments:
- Trump to disband task force: The White House coronavirus task force will start to wind down later this month, close to Memorial Day on May 25, according to a senior White House official. This comes just after new models show the US could see its death toll double, to reach 134,000 by August 4.
- UK death toll: The UK has overtaken Italy as the country with the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, with more than 29,500 deaths. Only the US has reported more Covid-19 related fatalities.
- New coronavirus study: A genetic analysis found that the virus has been circulating in people since late last year. Researchers concluded the virus' jump from animals to humans was "very recent," and ruled out the possibility that it had been infecting people long before it was identified.
- Progress in Asia: Hong Kong appears to have largely contained its second wave, with no new locally transmitted cases in more than two weeks. South Korea reported only two cases yesterday -- both imported -- its lowest number in 78 days. And China only reported two confirmed symptomatic cases, neither of which were local transmissions.
- Daily life resumes: Schools, restaurants and bars are reopening in mainland China and Hong Kong. US states are moving toward partial reopening, despite local mayors and health experts warning it may be too soon. Places in Europe, like Serbia, Poland, Hungary and Germany's Bavaria region, are also reopening.
A University of Pittsburgh research assistant professor, who was on the verge of making "very significant findings" toward Covid-19, was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide over the weekend, according to the university and police.
Dr. Bing Liu was found in his home, and had suffered gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso, and extremities, according to the Ross Police Department.
Investigators believe an unidentified second man, who was found dead in his car, shot and killed Liu in the townhome before returning to his car and taking his own life.
Police believe the men knew each other, but say there is "zero indication that there was targeting due to his (Liu) being Chinese," according to Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp.
The university issued a statement saying it is "deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu, a prolific researcher and admired colleague at Pitt. The University extends our deepest sympathies to Liu’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time."
Members of the university’s school of medicine describe their former colleague as an outstanding researcher and mentor, and have pledged to complete Liu's research "in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence."
He had been working to better understand the cellular mechanisms that underlie Covid-19.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he's preparing for the reopening of his state as early as mid-May.
"We have about another week before we could open some regions of the state," Cuomo said Wednesday on "Cuomo Prime Time," hosted by his brother, CNN's Chris Cuomo.
"We do see regional variations. So we're responding to those, because there are different facts upstate than downstate, so we're responding to those, but we're not going to be pressured into it."
Cuomo said reopening will be based on facts and data, but more coronavirus testing is needed.
"We do need more testing and that is an open issue," he said.
"They have to come up to scale. You then have to put tracing in place, which is an enormous undertaking that's never been done before. That has to be put in place to gauge the reopening."
South Korea reported two new coronavirus cases yesterday -- both imported from abroad, meaning the country had no local transmissions.
This is the country's lowest number of new cases since February 18, when the number of new cases was as low as one.
The national total now stands at to 10,806 cases and 255 deaths, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another 50 patients have been discharged from isolation, bringing the national total of recovered cases to 9,333 -- or 86.4% of the total infected.