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    The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. The coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. Here are the latest updates:  Plan to bring coronavirus patients to Alabama scuttled  Update 4:35 p.m. EST Feb 23:  A plan to quarantine some passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in Alabama was canceled Sunday. Passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have symptoms were going to be taken to the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, under a plan announced Saturday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Kay Ivey pushed back. 'I just got off the phone with the President,” Shelby wrote Sunday on social media. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.” Ivey also confirmed the change. 'President Trump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward,” Ivey said on social media. “I thanked him for his support of (Alabama)! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.” Italy locks down more than 50,000 people Update 2:05 p.m. EST Feb 23: Italy locked down more than 50,000 people in 10 towns in the country’s northern region of Lombardy, according to The New York Times. Government officials said there are now 152 confirmed cases, several events across Italy were canceled Sunday, including the last two days Venice’s Carnival, The Washington Post reported. Officials said Sunday, that 88 of the cases reported in Italy are from the Lombardy region, the Times reported. Three people have died, including a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, and at least 26 are in intensive care, according to officials. In other news, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country Sunday and 97 deaths, the Post reported. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936; there have been 2,442 deaths. China’s Xi calls virus ‘a crisis’ and ’big test’ Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb 23: China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told Communist Party officials at a meeting Sunday that the coronavirus epidemic was “a crisis and a big test” for the country. Xi admitted “obvious shortcomings in the response to the epidemic,” but did not give details, according to The New York Times. Xi also said officials should “learn lessons” and improve China’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, the newspaper reported. He said the outbreak in China presented “the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections” of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Times reported, citing the official Xinhua News Agency. 132 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:36 a.m. EST Feb. 23: At least 132 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, officials announced Sunday. According to CNN, two people there have died, while another 26 are being treated in intensive care.  South Korea reports 46 more coronavirus cases; total there hits 602 Update 3:51 a.m. EST Feb. 23: South Korean health officials said they have confirmed a total 602 coronavirus cases in the country, CNN is reporting. News of the new total came Sunday after the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 46 more cases of the virus, according to CNN. Five patients in South Korea have died from the illness, the outlet reported. 6th person dead from coronavirus in Iran  Update 5:36 p.m. EST Feb 22: A sixth person in Iran has died from the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.  The person also had a heart condition, The Associated Press reported. A fifth fatality in Iran was reported earlier Saturday.  There have been 28 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran. People are being treated in Tehran, Qom, Arak and Rasht. Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, after nine South Koreans who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported. Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported. Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported. Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported. On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper. University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported. After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported. WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported. “We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent. There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported. Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death  Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died. A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday. According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy. South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours  Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433. According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province. Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death  Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels. Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality. The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts. According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.” Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom. According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom. Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500  Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning. The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported. The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows: • Australia: at least 21 cases • Belgium: at least 1 case • Cambodia: at least 1 case • Canada: at least 9 cases • Egypt: at least 1 case • Finland: at least 1 case • France: at least 12 cases, 1 death • Germany: at least 16 cases • Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths • India: at least 3 cases • Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths • Israel: at least 1 case • Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death • Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths • Lebanon: at least 1 case • Macao: at least 10 cases • Malaysia: at least 22 cases • Nepal: at least 1 case • Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death • Russia: at least 2 cases • Singapore: at least 86 cases • South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death • Spain: at least 2 cases • Sri Lanka: at least 1 case • Sweden: at least 1 case • Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death • Thailand: at least 35 cases • United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases • United Kingdom: at least 9 cases • United States: at least 35 cases • Vietnam: at least 16 cases Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345  Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345. According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities. Australia confirms 6 new cases  Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness. Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down  Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29. Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship. The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN. Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard. The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported. Japan reports 12 new cases  Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers. The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy. To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections. Taiwan confirms 2 new cases Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday. The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently. 142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea  Update 9 p.m. EST Feb 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.  Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.  China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.  The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889. WHO’s latest situation report The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world. Read the latest situation report from the WHO below. Italy’s virus cases quadruples Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled. As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported. It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms. The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness. Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility. Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive. Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported. 1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86. Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China. Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals. Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries. Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters. The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan. Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection. South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death  Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported. Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper. The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times. Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died. Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported. “According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives,' health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday. 3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness. According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend. All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China. Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported. Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported. Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April. The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported. “One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing. Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China. According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard. “Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported. South Korean coronavirus infections continue to increase Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday. Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji. The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported. Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported. Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive. Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported. Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada. According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported. 11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19  Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease. All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17. China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths  Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.  New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.  China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland. 4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington  Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.  The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.  Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.  “The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital. WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’ Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.” As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection. 'This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.” CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong. The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread' in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.” Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection. Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus. Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more  Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry. The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.  Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.  Global death toll hits 2,126  Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.  At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness. Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.
  • A 6-year-old was shot and killed while he was riding in a car with his family in St. Louis, authorities said. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the shooting occurred about 1:45 p.m. Saturday as a couple and three children traveled along Euclid Avenue in the vehicle, St. Louis police said. An armed man opened fire from the other side of the street at a nearby intersection, striking the boy and his 9-year-old sister, police said. The gunfire also shattered glass, injuring the children's mother, authorities said. The man who was driving the car took the children to a nearby hospital, where the 6-year-old boy died and his 9-year-old sister was in critical condition, the Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case. No further information was immediately available. Read more here.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol said witnesses saw a woman hanging from a black pickup truck for a several hundred feet while it drove on I-75 in Alachua County Saturday evening. They told police the woman fell from the truck and was run over by its right rear tire. The truck, which is believed to be a black early 2000′s Ford F-250 or F-350 Super Duty, was seen exiting at 39th Avenue off I-75 South afterwards. Witnesses saw a while male with short dark hair driving. They also said he was swerving on the grass shoulder of I-75 with the woman hanging from the door of his truck before she fell off. FHP said the woman was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Anyone who saw this happen or knows information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers at (352)372-STOP or FHP Communications Center at 1-800-387-1290 or * FHP.
  • By multiple accounts, Nicholas Todd Sutton was a changed man. “I can confidently state that Nick Sutton is the most rehabilitated prisoner that I met working in maximum-security prisons over the course of 30 years,” former Tennessee Department of Correction Lt. Tony Eden stated in an affidavit included with Sutton’s Jan. 14 clemency petition. Eden was one of three prison guards whose lives Sutton saved during a prison riot at the Tennessee State Prison in 1985. Sutton, who first went to prison in 1979, is also credited with saving two fellow inmates during that riot more than three decades ago. Despite Eden’s statement, as well as the pleas of Sutton’s attorneys, the families of his victims and several jurors who convicted him, the state of Tennessee executed Sutton Thursday night at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. He died in the electric chair, which he chose over the state’s preferred method of execution, lethal injection. In a terse, one-sentence statement Thursday morning, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee denied the longtime inmate’s bid for mercy. “After careful consideration of Nicholas Sutton’s request for clemency and a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening,” Lee said. Two final appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied Thursday night, The Associated Press reported. In his final statement, Sutton thanked his wife, Reba Sutton, and friends and family who “tried so very hard to save (his) life,” according to the AP. He spoke of his faith and said Jesus had “fixed him” during his time in prison. “I’m just grateful to be a servant of God, and I’m looking forward to being in his presence,” Sutton said. Sutton was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m., the AP reported. A written last statement provided by Sutton’s attorneys spoke of how the friends Sutton had made had enriched his life. “They have reached out to me and pulled me up and I am grateful for that,” Sutton’s statement said. “I have had the privilege of being married to the finest woman, who is a great servant to God. Without her, I would not have made the progress that I have made. “I hope I do a much better job in the next life than I did in this one. If I could leave one thing with all of you, it is, don’t ever give up on the ability of Jesus Christ to fix someone or a problem. He can fix anything. Don’t ever underestimate his ability. He has made my life meaningful and fruitful through my relationships with family and friends. “So, even in my death, I am coming out a winner. God has provided it all to me.” Sutton was 58 years old, the same age his grandmother was in December 1979 when authorities said he knocked her unconscious with firewood at their Morristown home, wrapped her in a blanket and trash bags, chained her to a cinder block and threw her into the Nolichucky River to drown. According to the Tennessean, Dorothy Sutton, who had adopted her grandson after his father committed suicide, was a retired schoolteacher. It was not Dorothy Sutton’s death, or either of two additional murders a then-18-year-old Nick Sutton confessed to, that put him on death row. His death sentence did not come about until years later when he was convicted of stabbing to death Carl Estep, a convicted child rapist with whom he was serving time. None of Sutton’s or Estep’s family members witnessed the execution, the AP reported. A Tennessee Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Sutton had asked his loved ones not to attend. The sister of one of Sutton’s earlier victims, 19-year-old John Large, was at the prison, however. Following Sutton’s death, a statement from Amy Large Cook was read to the reporters present. “John was denied the opportunity to live a full life with a family of his own,” Cook’s statement read. “My children were denied meeting a wonderful man who would have spoiled them rotten and loved them with all his heart. He suffered a terrible and horrific death, and for that, I will never forgive Mr. Sutton.” Cook told WBIR in Knoxville that she was in sixth grade when Sutton, who spent a lot of time at her family’s home, killed her brother. Large, who was born on the Fourth of July, had been married less than a month when he was slain. According to the AP, Sutton was the fifth Tennessee death row inmate to choose the electric chair in just over a year. Expert witnesses have testified in court that midazolam, one part of the three-drug cocktail Tennessee uses to execute its inmates, does not prevent the feeling of pain. The cocktail used in Tennessee’s executions would cause inmates to experience the sensation of drowning, of suffocating and of suffering chemical burns, the AP reported last month. Four brutal killings Sutton was initially sentenced to life in prison for three murders: the killing of his grandmother and the murders of Large, a high school friend, and another man, 46-year-old Charles Almon III. The Tennessean reported that Sutton first drew suspicion after showing up at his family’s annual Christmas Eve dinner with scratches on his face, a load of presents his grandmother had wrapped -- but no Dorothy Sutton. His aunts called police after their mother failed to turn up by Christmas Day. Dorothy Sutton’s body was pulled from the river four days later. The newspaper reported that authorities believed Nick Sutton grew angry at his grandmother, who had a habit of giving him expensive gifts, when she finally denied him cash. That was not the story Sutton told at his murder trial, however. He testified at trial that he arrived home Dec. 22, 1979, to find his grandmother lying on the living room floor, covered with blood. He claimed he’d shot Almon in self-defense. Sutton testified that he, Large and Almon had pooled their cash to buy $75,000 worth of cocaine but that Large had vanished with the money and Almon began demanding payment from Sutton. “He went through quite a story, which did not turn out to be true at all,” former Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office investigator Martin Coffey, who worked the case, told the Tennessean last month. Jurors shared investigators’ doubts about Sutton’s story and convicted him of first-degree murder in his grandmother’s death. The bodies of Large, who had gone missing about four months before Dorothy Sutton’s death, and Almon remained missing until after Nick Sutton’s murder trial, when the teen struck a deal with authorities to avoid the death penalty, the Tennessean said. In return for life in prison, he led detectives to Large’s body, which he had buried on land his aunt owned in Waterville, North Carolina. Sutton told investigators he’d killed Large by ramming a tobacco stick through his mouth and into his skull. Almon, who had been shot to death, was found only when detectives investigating an unrelated murder in neighboring Cocke County accidentally stumbled upon his remains in a flooded rock quarry, according to the Tennessean. Sutton pleaded guilty in 1981 to killing Almon and Large at his aunt’s cabin in North Carolina and was sentenced to two more life sentences. The teen initially claimed to have killed two other people but authorities determined he was lying after Sutton took them on multiple fruitless searches for remains. No evidence of other killings was ever found. On Jan. 15, 1985, Estep, a fellow inmate at Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility, was stabbed 38 times in his cell. Sutton, who had a dispute with Estep over drugs, and two other inmates were charged with the slaying. The Tennessean reported that Estep had told Sutton he had a knife and would kill him. A search of Estep’s cell after his death turned up three homemade knives. One of the other inmates charged in the killing was acquitted, the newspaper reported. The third man received a life sentence and is now free on parole. Sutton, whose history of violence was taken into account at sentencing, was sent to death row. ‘From a life-taker to a life-saver’ Sutton’s appellate legal team, which was headed by former federal Judge Kevin Sharp, argued that the man who was facing the electric chair was far from the abuse-scarred, drug-addicted teen who went on a killing spree over 40 years ago. His wife, Reba Sutton, wrote that she had watched her husband, over the past three decades, overcome the pain of his childhood and repent for his mistakes. She said he cared for everyone and was “constantly looking for opportunities to serve others.” “Nick has been my rock through some of the most difficult times in my life, including the deaths of my mother and brother. Nick is my best friend and the highlight of every day,” she wrote. “I cannot imagine life without him and would ask that you grant him the opportunity to continue to teach love, hope, and compassion to men across the state who have taken a wrong turn in life.” Sutton’s attorneys credited the secure, stable environment of death row with helping him to overcome his addiction, which they said began as an adolescent suffering a childhood of abuse at the hands of his violent, mentally ill father. “Nick’s mother, Edna Fay O’Neill, abandoned Nick and his father, Pete, before Nick’s first birthday,” Sutton’s cousin, Lowell Sutton, wrote. “Pete battled severe mental illness and struggled with drug addiction throughout his life and was frequently in and out of mental institutions and jail. Pete could not hold a job and was unable to take care of himself, much less raise Nick. “Pete’s mistreatment of Nick broke my heart. He made Nick’s life a living hell.” Nick Sutton began using drugs at age 12, often with his father, his attorneys wrote. It was not until he was sent to death row that the cycle was broken. “For the first time since adolescence, he was able to get sober and, through years of hard work and perseverance, become the man he is today,” his attorneys wrote. “Nick is a truly reformed inmate who, while on death row, has dedicated his life to improving himself, to helping others and to counseling people through the hardships and traumas life has dealt them.” They pointed out that Sutton offered no justification for his crimes and was “profoundly remorseful” for his actions prior to prison. They also pointed to his behavior since being sent to death row as a reason to commute his sentence. “Nick Sutton has gone from a life-taker to a life-saver. Five Tennesseans, including three prison staff members, owe their lives to him,” the letter to Lee stated. Read Nick Sutton’s clemency letter below.  The attorneys were joined in their clemency request by Rosemary Estep Hall, the eldest daughter of the man whose murder put Sutton on death row. “It breaks my heart that Mr. Sutton has lost so much of his life on death row for killing my father,” Hall wrote. Sutton’s appeal for clemency was also supported by the families of two of his initial victims, his grandmother and Almon. Almon’s great-niece, who was born after he was slain, asked the governor to spare Sutton’s life because his death would further dishonor her uncle’s memory. She asked the state to not add “violence on top of violence.” Sutton’s family also begged for his life. “Nick’s own family was devastated when Nick murdered Dorothy Sutton in 1979, but now asks that you commute Nick’s death sentence in light of his profound transformation,” the letter stated. “Nick’s cousin, Lowell Sutton, believes ‘there is no question that Nick has transformed his life in prison. He has become a mentor and leader among his peers, is beloved and trusted by prison staff, and is an asset to the prison and its population.’” Lowell Sutton wrote that the family forgave his cousin and did not want to see him put to death. “Nick’s execution will only cause more pain and hurt for our family,” he wrote. “Please spare us that.” Five of the jurors who sentenced Sutton to death, along with an alternate juror, also signed on to the clemency request. The jurors, moved by his transformation, believed that his life was worth saving, the letter stated. A total of seven correctional officers who knew Sutton agreed. “Nick risked his own safety on three separate occasions to protect correction staff from violence by other inmates,” the clemency letter to Lee stated. “It is the opinion of James E. Aiken, a former correction commissioner, prison warden, and a prison adaptation expert who met with Nick and reviewed his incarceration history that, ‘Mr. Sutton saved the lives of these three (prison staff members).’ Nick has also saved the lives of two other inmates. “These actions demonstrate Nick’s true belief in the value of human life.” Eden, the former prison guard whose life was saved during the 1985 prison riot, wrote in his affidavit that he was taken hostage by a group of five inmates armed with knives and other weapons. “Nick and another inmate confronted them, physically removed me from the situation and escorted me to the safety of the trap gate in another building,” Eden wrote. “I firmly believe that the inmates who tried to take me hostage intended to seriously harm, if not kill me. Nick risked his safety and well-being in order to save me from possible death. I owe my life to Nick Sutton.” Eden wrote that if Sutton were released from prison, he would welcome him into his home and as his neighbor. Another former guard, Cheryl Donaldson, wrote about slipping, falling and striking her head on the floor in 1994 while walking through Riverbend Maximum, where she supervised the death row unit. She said no other staff members witnessed her fall and she felt that many inmates would have taken the opportunity to harm her while she was vulnerable. “Nick, however, did exactly the opposite,” Donaldson wrote. “He sprang into action, helped me to my feet, retrieved my keys and radio and alerted staff to come to my assistance. This was typical of Nick, who always puts others before himself and is willing to help anyone in need.” That care extended to his fellow inmates, who Sutton often aided when their health failed, according to the clemency letter. Joyce House, the mother of exonerated death row inmate Paul House, wrote that Sutton helped her son after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while in prison. Sutton, upset when Paul House was denied a wheelchair, began carrying him around the prison, helped him shower and keep himself clean and consoled him when he would cry over his situation. “As my son often told me, Nick is the only reason Paul is alive today,” Joyce House wrote. “As a mother, it was so difficult not to be able to care for my son. I owe so much to Nick for providing Paul with the care that I was unable to give him.” Sutton’s attorneys also argued in his clemency letter that prosecutors had initially offered their client a life sentence -- though it was one they said he could not take. They wrote that the deal was available only if his co-defendant, Charles Freeman, pleaded guilty to Estep’s murder and accepted a sentence of 30 to 40 years in prison. “Nick did not accept the offer because Mr. Freeman was minimally involved in Mr. Estep’s death,” the letter said. “Nick also maintained -- and continues to maintain -- that his other co-defendant, Thomas Street, is innocent. Despite the life offer and Nick’s willingness to accept the offer for himself, the State sought and obtained a death sentence at trial. “It is arbitrary and capricious that Nick received a death sentence rather than life due to his concern that his co-defendant not be forced into accepting an unjust plea. By offering Nick a life sentence prior to trial, the prosecution agreed that Nick is not the ‘worst of the worst,’ that he could be housed safely in prison for life, and that such a sentence served the interest of justice.”
  • A judge sentenced political consultant Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, to 40 months in prison Thursday following his conviction last year on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. Update 8:25 p.m. EST Feb. 23: A federal judge denied Roger Stone’s request Sunday to recuse herself two days after President Donald Trump’s confidant accused her of bias. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said there was no legal or factual basis to remove her from the case, CNN reported. Berman said Stone’s request was “nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words ‘judge’ and 'biased’ in it,” NBC News reported. Stone made the request Friday night. Update 3:40 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Trump told a crowd gathered Thursday in Las Vegas that he believes Stone “has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion.” “I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do. Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated,” Trump said while delivering a commencement speech at HOPE for Prisoners Graduation. “I personally think he was treated very unfairly. During the 2016 campaign, Stone mentioned in interviews and public appearances that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of the group’s plans to release hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton. Testimony revealed that Stone, while appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, named comedian Randy Credico as his intermediary and pressured Credico not to contradict him. After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should “stonewall it” and “plead the fifth,” he testified. Credico also testified during Stone’s trial that Stone repeatedly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before Congress. Credico and Stone have had a working relationship for more than dozen years, beginning in 2002 while Credico was working on a third-party candidate’s campaign in that year’s gubernatorial election in New York, according to Politico. “They talk about witness tampering, but the man that (Stone) was tampering didn’t seem to have that much of a problem with it,” Trump said Thursday. “They’ve known each other for years. It’s not like the tampering that I see on television, when you watch a movie -- that’s called tampering, with guns to people’s heads and lots of other things.” Update 12:55 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday sentenced Stone to serve a total of 40 months in prison. According to Courthouse News, Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison for obstruction, 12 months for each of five counts of making false statements and 17 months for witness tampering. The sentences were all set to run concurrently, Courthouse News reported. Stone is expected to remain free for the next few weeks, Mother Jones reported. Update 12:35 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has sentenced Roger Stone to serve 40 months, according to Vox. Update 12:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Thursday that Trump’s tweets in support of Stone “were totally inappropriate,” but she said she wouldn’t hold the 67-year-old accountable for the president’s actions, according to Mother Jones. Last week, Trump took to Twitter to slam a sentencing proposal from DOJ prosecutors, which called for between seven and nine years behind bars, as “horrible and very unfair.” Update 12 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone on Thursday that the case against him wasn’t politically motivated but instead “arose because Roger Stone characteristically inserted himself smack in the middle of one of the most incendiary issues of the day,” Courthouse News and Mother Jones reported. Stone’s sentencing hearing is ongoing. Update 11:25 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has called for a brief recess in Stone’s sentencing hearing, Courthouse News reported. Update 10:35 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Trump questioned the fairness of the case against Stone again Thursday in a tweet as the political consultant appeared in a Washington courthouse for sentencing. Trump compared Stone’s case to accusations that former FBI director James Comey and former deputy director Andrew McCabe lied to Congress, allegations they’ve denied. The president’s tweets were posted as Stone appeared before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington. Original report: The sentencing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday. The action in federal court comes amid Trump's unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant that has led to a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations the president has interfered in the case. Trump last week criticized a sentencing proposal from DOJ prosecutors, which called for between seven and nine years behind bars, as “horrible and very unfair.” Afterward, U.S. Attorney General William Barr backed off the sentencing recommendation, though Justice Department officials said the decision had been made Monday night — before Trump's tweet — and that prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it. A jury convicted Stone in November on several charges connected to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors said he lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks during the election. Stone was a prominent figure in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He and Trump have been friends since the 1980s, according to The Washington Post. Rumors have swirled since his conviction that Trump might issue a pardon for him, though he said in December that he hadn’t considered it, USA Today reported. 'I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone compared to what they do to other people, on their side,' the president added, according to the newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • An Oregon man has won $1.15 million after his boss had a police chief friend manufacture a criminal case in a bid to halt a potential racial discrimination lawsuit against his towing business. Michael Fesser, 48, of Portland, last week settled his lawsuit against the West Linn Police Department for $600,000. The settlement is one of the largest wrongful arrest settlements in Oregon history. Fesser had previously settled his claim against his former boss, Eric Benson, for $415,000. Benson owns A&B Towing in Southeast Portland. Fesser said in an interview with the Oregonian that it is his eight children “and the next black man or individual that has to go through this” that drove him to keep pushing forward with the lawsuits. Fesser’s attorney, Paul Buchanan, said Saturday that he is pleased with the attention the lawsuits and ultimate settlements are receiving. “For Michael, the purpose of this litigation has always been to bring about change,” Buchanan said. “We are watching to see whether law enforcement leaders are merely saying the right words to get them through this scandal until the attention dies down, or whether concrete steps are taken to bring about real change.” Watch Michael Fesser talk below about why he sued the West Linn Police Department. Police officials have not admitted guilt in the case but in a public statement, current West Linn police Chief Terry Kruger said the settlement was reached to avoid additional cost and uncertainty for the city. “The City of West Linn and the West Linn Police Department do not tolerate any acts of discrimination or disparate treatment by its employees,” Kruger said in the statement. “In 2018, when the allegations were first reported, an internal investigation was conducted, and swift and appropriate disciplinary personnel action was taken.” The settlement has resulted in outrage in the community and a number of fast-moving developments involving those named in the lawsuits, particularly former West Linn police Chief Terry Timeus. On Thursday, a West Linn city attorney released a long-secret, 100-page internal report that dealt with allegations of Timeus making racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and sexist comments while on the job as a Lake Oswego police officer, the post he held prior to becoming West Linn chief in 2005.  According to the Oregonian, the allegations included a sexual relationship with a confidential informant and the gay-bashing of a hotel clerk while arguing over the price of a room where he’d taken the informant in Portland.  The report was completed in 2008 -- three years after Timeus became police chief in West Linn.  The newspaper reported that former West Linn city manager Chris Jordan, who also had previously worked in Lake Oswego, had hired Timeus without performing a background check.  Two of the police officers embroiled in the Fesser case have been placed on administrative leave. Kruger said he placed Sgt. Tony Reeves, the only involved officer still working for West Linn, on leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office. Former West Linn police Lt. Mike Stradley, who now works as a supervisor of police training at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, has also been placed on leave in the wake of last week’s court settlement. Since the settlement, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and three members of Congress have called for a federal investigation into the alleged wrongdoing of West Linn and Portland police officials. The Oregonian reported Wednesday that U.S. Department of Justice officials are opening a probe into whether federal crimes were committed. West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod and the city council have submitted a letter of support for the federal investigation. Brown has also directed the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to investigate the case and Portland police Chief Jami Resch has asked the Police Bureau’s Professional Standards Division to look into the role Portland officers played in the case, Axelrod said Tuesday. Axelrod offered his “sincerest apologies” to Fesser, his family and the community. “As Mayor of West Linn, I must apologize for the described conduct that has stained our community. Such actions do not reflect West Linn and our neighboring cities, and we will be vigilant to make sure that such conduct never occurs in the future,” Axelrod said in a lengthy statement. “Mr. Fesser: I want to offer my sincerest apologies to you, your family, and everyone who has been hurt by this. “The (news) articles describe inexcusable racism and abuse of power at the hands of members of our police department. The pain, hurt, and fear that this caused you is unacceptable. I am deeply sorry.” The mayor said he looked forward to meeting Fesser, a meeting which was part of the settlement, and “learning from the courage (he has had) to share (his) story and press for justice.” “I commit to doing my part to work together with all parties and community members on a journey of healing,” Axelrod said. Read Mayor Axelrod’s entire statement here. The district attorney in Multnomah County, where Portland is located, is also conducting an investigation into the credibility of those involved, the Oregonian reported. If the officers’ conduct triggers a Brady notice, prosecutors would be required in future cases to disclose to defense attorneys evidence that could be used to impeach the officers’ credibility as witnesses. According to the Washington Post, the case began in 2017 when Fesser, who has for decades run a prison ministry in his spare time, went to Benson with complaints of racial harassment at A&B Towing. Fesser told Benson his coworkers used racial slurs, including calling him “Buckwheat,” and that one white man had pointed out a Confederate flag displayed on his truck, asking Fesser how he liked it. Fesser, who the Oregonian reported had managed the towing company’s auto auctions since 2004, described the workplace as hostile. Benson, who had been sued before for racial discrimination, feared another lawsuit. He turned to fishing buddy Timeus. According to Fesser’s federal lawsuit against the West Linn Police Department, Timeus had two of his officers, Reeves and Sgt. Mike Boyd, who were at the time detectives with the department, build a theft case against Fesser. Benson alleged that Fesser was skimming cash off the proceeds of the auctions he conducted. Benson later claimed he believed the company should have been earning more cash from the auctions and that Portland investigators were dismissive of his concerns that Fesser was stealing, the Oregonian said. Timeus had his detectives investigate Fesser, despite the fact that Benson’s towing company is in the city of Portland and outside the jurisdiction of West Linn. “The investigation culminated in an unlawful, extra-jurisdictional and unwarranted surveillance operation in Portland at the business of Chief Timeus’ friend where Mr. Fesser was employed,” the lawsuit stated. Much of the most damning evidence in the lawsuit came in the form of text messages between Benson, Timeus and the detectives. “At the direction of Chief Timeus, Sgt. Reeves and Sgt. Boyd attempted to secure statements from individuals who were expressly acknowledged in text messages to be ‘dirty,’” the lawsuit said. “These text messages can be found on both Chief Timeus’ and Sgt. Reeves’ phones.” The lawsuit alleged that the detectives worked with the witnesses, hoping they could get the men to back the false claims that Fesser was stealing from Benson’s company. Reeves, the suit stated, also undertook an illegal surveillance operation Feb. 25, 2017, as Fesser conducted an auction. Benson had an acquaintance record Fesser at work and, watching a live feed through company surveillance cameras, gave real-time updates to Reeves. Text messages revealed during discovery in the lawsuit showed Benson and Reeves using racist, homophobic and sexually explicit language as they texted one another. The texts, which are contained in federal court records, show that Benson said he wished Fesser’s arrest would happen in Clackamas County because he wanted to “make sure he was with some real racist boys.” “Dreams can never come true, I guess,” Benson texted. “Oh, did I say that? I’m a bad person. I have some anger issues going on with him right now.” “I can’t imagine why,” Reeves responded. At another point in the conversation, Benson sent the detective a photo of his dog. “Hope Fesser doesn’t get her in the lawsuit,” Reeves joked. “Hahaha. She’s not a fan of that type of folk,” Benson wrote. “She is a wl (West Linn) dog.” No evidence of wrongdoing by Fesser was found during the illegal surveillance. Despite that fact, Reeves and Boyd, with help from Stradley, a retired Portland police officer then working in West Linn, got the Portland Police Department’s gang enforcement team involved and that same night, they arrested Fesser as he drove home from work. “My game, my rules,” Reeves texted Benson shortly before the officers moved in, according to court records. “It’s better that we arrest him before he makes the complaint (of racial discrimination). Then, it can’t be retaliation.” Fesser told the Post he remembered seeing about a half-dozen patrol cars descend on him as he left the site of the auction that night. One West Linn officer repeatedly demanded, “Where’s the money?” and they asked him about his place of work. “When they first said that, I knew where this was coming from,” Fesser told the Post. According to Fesser’s lawsuit, one of the Portland officers, who knew him from his prison ministry, expressed discomfort with the situation. “Mike, this is not my call,” the unnamed officer told him, according to the complaint. “I don’t want to be here. We’re just assisting West Linn.” Below, read the amended federal lawsuit Michael Fesser filed against the West Linn Police Department.  Fesser’s lawsuit claimed the detectives arrested, detained him and interrogated him illegally and without probable cause. They also seized his belongings, including his cellphone, personal papers and “attorney-client privileged communications between Mr. Fesser and his employment attorney regarding his concerns of racial discrimination in the workplace,” the document said. Fesser was released on his own recognizance about eight hours after his arrest for aggravated theft. He was ordered to go to court for an arraignment the following Monday, at which time the case against him was dismissed. Meanwhile, the Oregonian reported, Benson had reached out to Timeus asking for “extra patrols” at his West Linn home, apparently fearing Fesser might show up after being released. Two days after his arrest, Fesser was called to the police station to pick up his belongings. At that point, Reeves and Boyd informed him he’d been fired by Benson. “How do police fire me from my job?” Fesser told the Oregonian of his thoughts at the time. Though the criminal case was thrown out prior to Fesser’s arraignment, the investigation was reignited seven months later -- after Fesser had filed a lawsuit against Benson in state court. “Upon information and belief, shortly after the filing of the civil litigation referenced above, the West Linn Defendants sought to prevail upon the Multnomah County district attorney to bring criminal charges against Mr. Fesser. This effort finally bore fruit in November 2017 when criminal charges were initiated,” the lawsuit stated. The district attorney dropped the charges again the following March. Timeus was placed on administrative leave in June 2017 amid accusations of “potential personnel policy violations.” He retired later that year after an internal investigation into an off-duty drunken driving investigation found “no terminable offenses,” the city announced at the time. Reeves said in his deposition in the Fesser civil case that he was disciplined for his participation in the illegal arrest. Nevertheless, he was promoted from detective to sergeant in March 2018. Kruger, who became police chief in June 2018, spoke out last week amid a wave of public outrage over Fesser’s wrongful arrest. He said much has changed about the department in the three years since he was targeted. “The former chief, captain and lieutenant involved no longer work here. Three sergeants, one detective and thirteen officers have also left service from the City of West Linn in that same timeframe; all in a department of 30 sworn personnel,” Kruger said. “In the 20 months that I have been the chief, I have promoted two new captains, two sergeants and two detectives, along with the hiring of six new police officers, a new evidence technician and community service officer.” Kruger said he has also implemented new and added training that focuses on implicit bias, diversity and procedural justice. “The officers here are on a strong path of ethical policing and fair and equitable service to all members of the public,” the chief said.
  • The Atlanta Police Department is mourning one of its own. Police in Riverdale, Georgia, say Stanley Lawrence, 58, was shot and killed by his wife, Tammare Lawrence, 49, at their home along Oak Valley Drive early this morning. Police have charged Tammare Lawrence with felony murder and aggravated assault. She remains in the Clayton County Jail. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields released a statement saying: “We are stunned by this terrible news. Stanley Lawrence was a respected officer who was beloved by his colleagues and the children of our Police Athletic League, where he worked every day to mentor and positively impact their lives. We are deeply saddened, and will miss him terribly. We are doing everything we can to support his family and colleagues as we all grieve this tragic loss.” Lawrence began working for the department in December 1990. His most recent assignment was with the Police Athletic League.
  • At least 11 people are dead, including the suspected gunman, in a series of attacks in Hanau, Germany, authorities said. According to The Associated Press, the 43-year-old gunman, who investigators said likely had far-right beliefs, opened fire at a hookah bar, cafe, car and sports bar Wednesday night, killing nine people before fleeing, investigators said. Police later found the suspect dead at his home near his mother’s body, the AP reported. Hesse Interior Minister Peter Beuth said investigators are analyzing a website that likely belonged to the suspect, whose name has not been released. The gunman appeared to have a “xenophobic motivation,” Beuth said, according to the AP. Officials are investigating the mass shooting as possible domestic terrorism, the AP reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attacks. “Racism is a poison. Hatred is a poison,” she said, adding, “This hatred exists in our society, and it is responsible for far too many crimes.” Read more here.
  • An Ohio woman jailed, accused of making dozens of 911 calls, is now pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Rachel Carin Weimer, 37, of Washington Township, is due Friday in Kettering Municipal Court following her psychological evaluation, online court records show. She has been in the Montgomery County Jail – where she is held on a $150,000 bond – since her Jan. 6 arrest. She is facing seven counts of abuse of 911 and other misdemeanor charges, including false alarm, phone threats/harassment, aggravated menacing and resisting arrest. Weimer called emergency dispatchers 79 times between early November and her arrest, Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck told WHIO-TV. The majority came at the end of 2019 and early 2020. Weimer’s fiancé Nick Bond said in January that the calls started with their complaint to deputies about a neighbor. Then it turned into complaints about the deputies themselves. “I think it’s a little ridiculous that they arrested her for this,” Bond said at the time. He offered this reason for his fiancée calling 911 so many times: “To try and get their attention really. To try and annoy them so much that they finally do their job.”
  • A Texas toddler is dead after authorities said she fell into an Aransas Pass septic tank. According to KRIS and KIII, Charleigh Nicole Nelson, 2, was on the tank’s lid at the Paradise Lagoons RV Resort on Wednesday when it collapsed beneath her, neighbors said. She ended up falling 15 feet, authorities said. Charleigh’s family and neighbors initially tried to pull the girl out with a rope, but it wasn’t long enough, and later with a backhoe, KRIS reported. Emergency crews from several local agencies responded and removed her body from the tank, according to the news outlet. The investigation is ongoing, authorities said. Read more here or here.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. The coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. Here are the latest updates:  Plan to bring coronavirus patients to Alabama scuttled  Update 4:35 p.m. EST Feb 23:  A plan to quarantine some passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in Alabama was canceled Sunday. Passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have symptoms were going to be taken to the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, under a plan announced Saturday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Kay Ivey pushed back. 'I just got off the phone with the President,” Shelby wrote Sunday on social media. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.” Ivey also confirmed the change. 'President Trump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward,” Ivey said on social media. “I thanked him for his support of (Alabama)! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.” Italy locks down more than 50,000 people Update 2:05 p.m. EST Feb 23: Italy locked down more than 50,000 people in 10 towns in the country’s northern region of Lombardy, according to The New York Times. Government officials said there are now 152 confirmed cases, several events across Italy were canceled Sunday, including the last two days Venice’s Carnival, The Washington Post reported. Officials said Sunday, that 88 of the cases reported in Italy are from the Lombardy region, the Times reported. Three people have died, including a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, and at least 26 are in intensive care, according to officials. In other news, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country Sunday and 97 deaths, the Post reported. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936; there have been 2,442 deaths. China’s Xi calls virus ‘a crisis’ and ’big test’ Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb 23: China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told Communist Party officials at a meeting Sunday that the coronavirus epidemic was “a crisis and a big test” for the country. Xi admitted “obvious shortcomings in the response to the epidemic,” but did not give details, according to The New York Times. Xi also said officials should “learn lessons” and improve China’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, the newspaper reported. He said the outbreak in China presented “the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections” of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Times reported, citing the official Xinhua News Agency. 132 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:36 a.m. EST Feb. 23: At least 132 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, officials announced Sunday. According to CNN, two people there have died, while another 26 are being treated in intensive care.  South Korea reports 46 more coronavirus cases; total there hits 602 Update 3:51 a.m. EST Feb. 23: South Korean health officials said they have confirmed a total 602 coronavirus cases in the country, CNN is reporting. News of the new total came Sunday after the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 46 more cases of the virus, according to CNN. Five patients in South Korea have died from the illness, the outlet reported. 6th person dead from coronavirus in Iran  Update 5:36 p.m. EST Feb 22: A sixth person in Iran has died from the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.  The person also had a heart condition, The Associated Press reported. A fifth fatality in Iran was reported earlier Saturday.  There have been 28 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran. People are being treated in Tehran, Qom, Arak and Rasht. Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, after nine South Koreans who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported. Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported. Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported. Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported. On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper. University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported. After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported. WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported. “We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent. There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported. Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death  Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died. A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday. According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy. South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours  Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433. According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province. Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death  Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels. Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality. The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts. According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.” Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom. According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom. Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500  Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning. The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported. The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows: • Australia: at least 21 cases • Belgium: at least 1 case • Cambodia: at least 1 case • Canada: at least 9 cases • Egypt: at least 1 case • Finland: at least 1 case • France: at least 12 cases, 1 death • Germany: at least 16 cases • Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths • India: at least 3 cases • Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths • Israel: at least 1 case • Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death • Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths • Lebanon: at least 1 case • Macao: at least 10 cases • Malaysia: at least 22 cases • Nepal: at least 1 case • Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death • Russia: at least 2 cases • Singapore: at least 86 cases • South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death • Spain: at least 2 cases • Sri Lanka: at least 1 case • Sweden: at least 1 case • Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death • Thailand: at least 35 cases • United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases • United Kingdom: at least 9 cases • United States: at least 35 cases • Vietnam: at least 16 cases Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345  Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345. According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities. Australia confirms 6 new cases  Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness. Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down  Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29. Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship. The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN. Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard. The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported. Japan reports 12 new cases  Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers. The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy. To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections. Taiwan confirms 2 new cases Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday. The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently. 142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea  Update 9 p.m. EST Feb 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.  Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.  China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.  The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889. WHO’s latest situation report The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world. Read the latest situation report from the WHO below. Italy’s virus cases quadruples Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled. As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported. It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms. The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness. Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility. Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive. Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported. 1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86. Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China. Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals. Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries. Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters. The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan. Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection. South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death  Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported. Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper. The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times. Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died. Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported. “According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives,' health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday. 3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness. According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend. All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China. Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported. Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported. Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April. The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported. “One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing. Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China. According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard. “Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported. South Korean coronavirus infections continue to increase Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday. Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji. The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported. Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported. Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive. Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported. Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada. According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported. 11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19  Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease. All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17. China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths  Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.  New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.  China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland. 4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington  Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.  The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.  Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.  “The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital. WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’ Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.” As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection. 'This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.” CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong. The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread' in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.” Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection. Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus. Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more  Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry. The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.  Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.  Global death toll hits 2,126  Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.  At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness. Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.
  • Friday morning, a Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a disturbance in the Ormond-by-the-Sea municipality on Florida’s East Coast. They were dispatched at the request of 28 year old Kayla Kangas’ landlord, asked to handle a dispute between the two over late rent payments. When the deputy arrived, Kangas was gone; soon after, dispatchers sent the deputy to investigate a robbery-in-progress at a Publix on Ocean Shore Boulevard. An employee told police that a woman in her 20’s approached the customer service desk with a note demanding money, leaving with an undisclosed amount. During the search, the deputy who had come from Kangas’ home decided to backtrack, calling the landlord and asking if Kangas had returned while they were away. Not only had she, but the landlord said Kangas came back immediately after the deputy left, picking up her boyfriend and leaving “like a bat out of hell.” Police reviewed surveillance footage and put the pieces together, coordinating a traffic stop. Kangas was found driving on Ocean Shore Boulevard and arrested. The 28 year old was charged with robbery and grand theft, taken to the Volusia County Jail, and is held on $10,000 bail.
  • A 6-year-old was shot and killed while he was riding in a car with his family in St. Louis, authorities said. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the shooting occurred about 1:45 p.m. Saturday as a couple and three children traveled along Euclid Avenue in the vehicle, St. Louis police said. An armed man opened fire from the other side of the street at a nearby intersection, striking the boy and his 9-year-old sister, police said. The gunfire also shattered glass, injuring the children's mother, authorities said. The man who was driving the car took the children to a nearby hospital, where the 6-year-old boy died and his 9-year-old sister was in critical condition, the Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case. No further information was immediately available. Read more here.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol said witnesses saw a woman hanging from a black pickup truck for a several hundred feet while it drove on I-75 in Alachua County Saturday evening. They told police the woman fell from the truck and was run over by its right rear tire. The truck, which is believed to be a black early 2000′s Ford F-250 or F-350 Super Duty, was seen exiting at 39th Avenue off I-75 South afterwards. Witnesses saw a while male with short dark hair driving. They also said he was swerving on the grass shoulder of I-75 with the woman hanging from the door of his truck before she fell off. FHP said the woman was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Anyone who saw this happen or knows information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers at (352)372-STOP or FHP Communications Center at 1-800-387-1290 or * FHP.
  • Even though it feels like we just got out of it, we are now less than 4 months away from the 2020 hurricane season. Thinking ahead, the National Hurricane Center has released the storm names for this year. The first one for this year will be named Arthur. Following that is Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Eduoard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.  Last year's season saw the formation of its first named storm before June 1st, as well as 18 named storms in total. Hurricane season kicks off June 1st and lasts through November 30th. If you are new to Florida and hurricanes, it is recommended that you prepare ahead of time to avoid running low or being unable to stock up on essential supplies.  We have everything you need to know to prepare for this year's hurricane season here. Also, be sure to download the News 96.5 WDBO app and have your push notifications enabled so you can stay on top of all breaking, weather, and traffic related news.

Washington Insider

  • A day after finishing well behind Bernie Sanders in the Nevada Caucuses, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg received a rousing reception at an outdoor rally in Virginia, one of the fourteen Super Tuesday states where Buttigieg will need a boost to insure he has some major influence in coming weeks in the Democratic race for President. 'Our numbers have grown a little bit,' Buttigieg said to cheers, as thousands gathered on the football field at Washington-Liberty High School, not far across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. 'We're running on adrenaline,' Buttigieg added, detailing how had hop scotched his way from Nevada to Colorado, to South Carolina for church this morning, and then here in the Old Dominion for his Sunday afternoon rally. In his speech, Buttigieg quickly turned his fire on front runner Bernie Sanders, who seems likely to be targeted on Tuesday night, in the next Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina. 'I respect my friend Sen. Sanders,' Buttigieg said. 'But I also believe that the way we will build the movement to defeat Donald Trump is to call people into our tent, not to call them names on line.' 'This is where I view things a little differently than Sen. Sanders,' Buttigieg said later in his speech. 'I don't believe we can allow ourselves to get to the point where it feels like fighting is the point.' As Buttigieg took the stage in Arlington, 60 percent of the precincts were reporting from the Nevada Caucuses a day earlier - and as the sun went down, the numbers only got worse for anyone not named Sanders. “I believe we call that a rout,” said elections analyst Kyle Kondik. With 72 percent reporting, Sanders was at 47.5 percent, Biden at 20.8 percent, while Buttigieg trailed well back in third at 13.8 percent. 'We cannot wait four years,' Buttigieg said of the drive by Democrats to oust President Trump. 'We can't wait nine days!' someone in the crowd shouted back, referring to Super Tuesday. Buttigieg also used his stop in the Washington area to raise money for his campaign, needing a boost as this race goes more national over the next week. The candidates for the Democratic nomination will gather on Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina for their next debate; South Carolina holds a primary on Saturday. Super Tuesday follows the next Tuesday, on March 3, as 14 states will vote, with Sanders seen as a top finisher in most of those contests. Buttigieg and other challengers to Sanders will host a series of events in Charleston on Monday on the eve of the debate. Then, the race will start to explode outside of the borders of the Palmetto State, as after the debate, Buttigieg will go to Florida on Wednesday for a series of fundraising events. Florida does not vote until March 17, two weeks after Super Tuesday. Buttigieg's good turnout on Sunday came after Elizabeth Warren drew 4,000 not far from here in Virginia last week - another signal that Democratic voters are desperate to find someone to take on, and defeat, President Trump in November. 'America is ready for Pete,' said Kyle Rumpler, a Buttigieg organizer. For now, Buttigieg is in second place in the delegate race, but Super Tuesday could bring some big changes.