CORONAVIRUS:

 What You Need To Know

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The Latest Political Headlines

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects Saudi Arabia and Russia will end an oil war and dramatically cut production. The global gut in production, coupled with a slowing economy from the coronavirus pandemic, has sent energy prices to lows not seen since 2002. Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman days after talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the matter. Trump tweeted; “I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Last month Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco said it would increase its crude oil production to 12.3 million barrels a day in April, a record. Over the past quarter, the price of crude has fallen harder than at any point in history, plunging almost 70%, to around $20 per barrel. According to the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. crude inventories rose by 10.5 million barrels last week, well over twice what energy analysts had been expecting. Low crude prices make many domestically-produced U.S. energy sources cost-prohibitive, and a shock to the energy sector would mean thousands of jobs lost. At the same time, for the most consumers, falling oil prices are a blessing. Some stations are selling gasoline for less than $1 a gallon, though closer to $2 is the norm. In early March, Russia refused to join the OPEC oil cartel in proposed production cuts aimed at supporting prices. That led Saudi Arabia, the leading OPEC member, to change course by cutting prices and signaling it would ramp up production.
  • The Trump administration said Thursday it is distributing about $3 billion in the first round of coronavirus aid to help the homeless find emergency shelter and communities expand testing and treatment. Advocacy groups say the homeless population is particularly at risk during the pandemic. Many already have health problems such as heart disease or diabetes, and live in conditions that do not allow for frequent hand washing and social distancing. The initial installment of money represents about one-quarter of the total that Congress allocated to the Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of a $2.2 trillion aid package. The agency said it will distribute the remaining $9.1 billion once new grant formulas are set. The department said the biggest chunk of money for local governments and nonprofits will pay for new medical facilities for testing and treatment and other activities. Grant recipients can also use the money to acquire hotel buildings to accommodate the isolation of patients, or to support businesses that make medical supplies. About $1 billion will go for emergency shelters and providing vouchers so the homeless can stay at motels. This money can be used to provide child care, mental health treatment and employment assistance. About $64 million will help those with HIV and AIDS find short-term lodging. In California, which has the nation's largest homeless population, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged thousands of hotel rooms to help homeless people. In Las Vegas, the homeless have been directed temporarily to sleep in rectangles painted on a parking lot as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said Thursday he feels safe despite reports he's received online threats and has had uncomfortable personal encounters with admirers that prompted the Trump administration to assign him a security detail. Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force who appears almost daily on televised briefings and news shows, says there are things about his job that are 'sometimes disturbing.' But Fauci, a plain-speaking expert on the coronavirus who hasn't shied away from publicly correcting President Donald Trump's erroneous statements about the virus, told NBC's “Today” that he just focuses on the job he has chosen and puts 'all of that stuff aside.' The Department of Health and Human Services requested the U.S. Marshals Service authorize special agents from the HHS inspector general’s office as part of Fauci's security detail, according to a person familiar with the arrangements, who spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement. The Justice Department approved the request to deputize nine agents, the person said. The Washington Post first reported Fauci's enhanced security. It said that Alex Azar, HHS secretary, grew concerned about Fauci's safety as his profile has risen. Fauci is said to have received threats online and been approached by admirers. Asked Thursday if he felt safe, the 79-year-old Fauci told NBC, 'You know, I do. ... I've chosen this life and I mean I know what it is. There are things about it that are sometimes disturbing but you just focus on the job you have to do and just put all of that stuff aside and try as best as possible not to pay attention to it.' Reporters asked Fauci about his security detail on Wednesday at the White House COVID-19 briefing. “Anything that has to do with security detail, I'd have to have you refer that question to the inspector general of HHS,' he said. Trump then said Fauci doesn't need security. “Everybody loves him. Besides, they'd be in big trouble if they ever attacked,” Trump said.
  • President Donald Trump has held an unequivocal position about China and the coronavirus — several of them. Trump initially praised China, then excoriated Beijing after it made unsubstantiated claims that the virus originated in the United States. Now, Trump is back to offering niceties. The diverging messages have generated finger-pointing by both Beijing and Washington that is further destabilizing a critical relationship between countries with the two largest economies and militaries. There might not be radical shifts in U.S.-China policy during the next several months, but China's cover-up and disinformation campaign will color the relationship going forward, Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said Wednesday. 'It's very hard to see progress on trade talks after this,' he said. He added that he expects Congress will push to address American dependence on China for medical and other manufacturing supplies. There are calls in Congress to hold China accountable for initially covering up the outbreak. Anticipating a backlash, China's official Xinhua News Agency last month suggested that Beijing could retaliate against the U.S. by banning the export of medical products that would leave the U.S. stuck in the ”ocean of viruses.' Early in the outbreak, Trump lauded China for its response to COVID-19, tweeting on Jan. 24 that the U.S. appreciated Beijing's efforts and “transparency,' even though local Chinese officials initially covered up mounting cases in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first reported. In February, as the virus began to spread in Europe, Trump still refrained from blaming China. Then Trump started going after Beijing, repeatedly calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.' He said he was upset that some Chinese officials had suggested without evidence that the U.S. military transported the virus to Wuhan or that the virus was released from a U.S. lab. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, tweeted March 12: “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Other U.S. officials chimed in. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” six times in one State Department briefing. He chastised the Chinese Communist Party for not allowing U.S. medical experts into the country, kicking Western journalists out and cracking down on the flow of information. The National Security Council at the White House also has accused the Communist Party of launching disinformation campaigns around the world and retaliating against Chinese citizens who wanted to tell the public about the coronavirus. The president has said China was trying to blame the United States to distract the world from the shortcomings of Beijing's own response. “It could have been stopped in its tracks,” Trump said March 19 at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. “Unfortunately, they (Chinese officials) didn’t decide to make it public. But the whole world is suffering because of it.” Trump abruptly stopped calling it the “Chinese virus” shortly after China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, appeared to split with Zhao, calling the theory “crazy” and saying that it was not for diplomats to speculate. Now the president is praising Chinese President Xi Jinping again. “We have a great trade deal and we would like to keep it. They would like to keep it and the relationship is good,” Trump said Wednesday. He noted that some of China's numbers on COVID-19 cases seem a bit “low,” but he insisted his relationship with Xi remained “really good.” For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The coronavirus has infected at least 940,000 people and killed more than 47,000 worldwide, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Ray Yip, an American public health official who founded the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's office in China in 2003, said expert teams the central government sent to Wuhan failed to initially realize that the virus could spread from human to human, which compounded the consequences. Once the Chinese government understood the scope of the problem, it moved decisively, he said. Chinese health officials informed the World Health Organization about the new virus on Dec. 31. By Jan. 12, Chinese scientists had sequenced the virus’ genetic makeup and shared it with the WHO, drawing praise for their transparency and swift action. Yip contends the U.S. response was far worse than China's. “If we started responding forcibly, properly, tracked down the cases and snuffed them out, it didn’t have to spread,” Yip said. 'We let an initial small fire spread, and now the fire is too big — we have trouble putting it out. If there is such a thing as suing for malpractice for public health — this has to be it.' Dali Yang, a University of Chicago political science professor who researches Chinese governance and has closely followed the pandemic, also points a finger at local Chinese officials, who, in early January, were preparing for 'two sessions,' an annual event for local and provincial officials. They didn't want to upset Beijing or cause panic in the streets ahead of the important Jan. 11-17 meetings so they suppressed information about the outbreak. Before and during the 'two sessions,' China’s National Health Commission dispatched three teams of experts to Wuhan. The first two struggled to get information from local health officials, especially about whether the virus was being transmitted from person to person, Yang said. The experts reportedly were closely watched and were not allowed to talk to emergency doctors or visit infectious-disease wards. Local officials punished Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who shared information about local transmission of the virus, which later claimed his life. When Dr. Ai Fen, head of emergency care at Wuhan Central Hospital, assessed that the virus was being spread from human to human, she was admonished for spreading rumors and causing panic, Yang said. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Beijing often blames local authorities for the central government's failings. “They're still covering up,” Blumenthal said. “All discussion of COVID-19 on social media apps get blocked and censured. ... They are cracking down even more, censoring even more. They are jailing people who are trying to tell the truth.' ___ Associated Press writer Dake Kang in Beijing contributed to this report.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will establish a special House committee with subpoena power to oversee the government's spending of the more than $2.2 trillion approved to bolster the economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi, D-Calif., described her plans during a conference call with reporters, even as she said that the day's report of a staggering 6.6 million more people filing for unemployment benefits had increased the urgency for a federal response. Pelosi and President Donald Trump have both suggested fresh legislation spending $2 trillion for new infrastructure projects, but even under the coronavirus crisis its prospects seemed unclear. Pelosi said the new bipartisan panel would be headed by No. 3 House Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina. It would seek to ensure there is waste, profiteering, price gouging or political favoritism as Washington pumps huge sums into the economy to pay unemployment, protect jobs and businesses and fortify the health care system. “”The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus, and to assure that the taxpayers' dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy,' she said. For years, both parties have said they favor job-creating infrastructure spending but have been deadlocked over how to finance it. That's led to jokes about “infrastructure week” — shorthand for Trump plans to roll out proposals that never materialize. This time, talk of a massive infrastructure effort comes as leaders of the mostly locked-down country desperately try averting the worst economic collapse since the Depression. Yet even with both sides agreeing that infrastructure can be a reliable way of creating jobs and modernizing systems that themselves add muscle to the economy, it's unclear they can reach an election-year compromise. “A lot of this is theater, staking out the high ground for the fight that’s coming,’’ said Liam Donovan, a lobbyist who's specialized in infrastructure work. Pelosi and other top Democrats sketched out their own evolving infrastructure plan on Wednesday. Its anchor would be a $760 billion package for roads, mass transit, water systems and high-speed internet networks, with more money coming for education, housing and community health centers. Democrats offered no apologies that their plan included clean energy and other environmental proposals. “If you're going to rebuild it, it's rebuild it the right way,' said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Trump made his proposal by tweet on Tuesday, saying the plan should be “VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars.' He elaborated later to reporters. “We redo our roads, our highways, our bridges. We fix up our tunnels, which are, many of them, in bad shape,” he said. Congress' top Republicans have been guarded about the idea but have stopped short of ruling it out. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he'll oppose any Democratic effort to use a fresh economic recovery bill to advance environmental restrictions or other policy preferences. “We need to make certain that any further actions we take are directly related to this public health crisis.” McConnell told told Fox News Radio's Guy Benson on Tuesday. “This isn’t a time to attempt to reshape American life through the eyes of one political party,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Other Republicans are also tapping the brakes, saying any decision should await a fresh view of the economy when Congress returns to Washington. With lawmakers scattered around the country, that won't be until late April, at the earliest. “If we find ourselves where the economy needs a stimulus, to me a highway infrastructure bill would be a key component of that,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of his chamber's Energy and Public Works Committee, said in an interview. Underscoring the range of support for infrastructure, groups praising the effor included the nonpartisan Environmental Working Group, five steel industry trade organizations and the National Association of Counties. Other prominent players were less enthusiastic. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it favors increased infrastructure spending but prefers financing it by gradually raising federal fuel taxes. Those levies have been stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel since 1993 and are not adjusted for inflation. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan anti-deficit group, rejected Trump's argument that today's near-zero interest rates made infrastructure spending appealing. “Just because borrowing is cheap right now doesn’t mean it’s free,' said Maya MacGuineas, the committee's president. Trump promised a $1 trillion plan during his presidential run, paid for largely by private investments. Democrats opposed that approach. Last spring, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., emerged from a White House meeting to say they'd tentatively agreed with Trump to work on a $2 trillion infrastructure package. That blew up days later during a White House meeting that disintegrated after Trump exploded over Congress' investigation into Russia's aid to his presidential campaign. The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House each have plans that have stopped short of final approval. Barrasso's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan bill last summer mapping $287 billion for roads and bridges. In January, DeFazio's House panel outlined a broader $760 billion plan for roads, broadband and other projects that is now embodied in Pelosi's package. ___ Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
  • Relatives of Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned abroad or held hostage by militant groups say in a report Thursday that the U.S. government must do better in communicating with them, though they cite improvements over the past five years. Several of those interviewed for the report say they do not believe that the cases of their loved ones have the attention of the highest levels of government. In particular, family members of Americans detained by foreign governments on trumped-up charges are less satisfied with the attention and information they receive than are relatives of hostages held by militant or criminal groups. The report from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is based on interviews with 25 former hostages and detainees as well as their relatives and advocates. It cites improvements in the government's response since U.S. officials overhauled the hostage policy five years ago, but says relatives still want more complete and accurate information and clarity about which agency is supposed to help them. Some, for instance, want the government to declassify more information so that it can be more easily shared, or to provide limited security clearances. The report is the latest outside effort to scrutinize how the government interacts with hostages and detainees and their families back home. It examines the changes to hostage policy that were instituted by the Obama administration in 2015 and that largely remain intact under President Donald Trump. Those include the creation of an FBI-led hostage recovery fusion cell and the appointment of a State Department envoy for hostage affairs. The policy revamp followed the beheadings of Westerners, including Foley, a freelance journalist, at the hands of the Islamic State group in Syria. Relatives of hostages demanded changes after they said U.S. officials threatened prosecution if they tried to raise a ransom, kept them out of the loop on rescue attempts and didn't clearly communicate government policy. Foley's mother, Diane, established the foundation to raise attention for hostage issues and to advocate for Americans held overseas. The report says the policy improvements have been effective and durable, resulting in better government access for hostage families and more resources. But it also says families of other detainees don't feel like their cases are prioritized in the same way. The U.S. government distinguishes hostages who are captured by overseas criminal organizations or by militant groups designated as terrorists from detainees who are held by foreign governments, often arbitrarily or on exaggerated or fabricated charges. The distinction matters in terms of which government agency is responsible for the case. Hostage cases are worked by the FBI-led Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and the State Department through its envoy for hostage affairs. Detainee cases are run through the State Department, largely through its consular affairs office but also its hostage office if the detention is regarded as being for illegitimate purposes. Though the hostage policy overhaul sought to establish lanes of responsibility within the government's response, several of the report’s participants expressed confusion about which agency was supposed to be their primary point of contact. Many relatives of hostages who were interviewed said they felt they had reliable access to the government, but relatives of detainees did not feel the same, with one family advocate saying they “had to work way too hard to get the State Department’s attention and help.” The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI had no immediate comment. “There is a notable disparity in the treatment of hostage and wrongful-detainee families by the U.S. government, with the latter receiving less attention, information, and access,' the report said. It said “the U.S. government can do more to support the families of those Americans wrongfully detained abroad.' Several interviewees said they were concerned about having less access to the State Department's hostage affairs office because of turnover there. Robert O'Brien, the official who used to hold the position, is now Trump's national security adviser. The Trump administration has made the return of hostages and detainees a priority. Officials have eagerly touted the release of multiple high-profile Americans as validation of those efforts. Danny Burch was freed last year, 18 months after being abducted in Yemen and Kevin King, an American professor, was released by the Taliban in a prisoner exchange last November. Still, other cases remain unresolved or have not had positive outcomes. American journalist Austin Tice remains missing after vanishing in Syria in 2012. Trump recently mentioned Tice by name, saying the government was working to bring him home. Last week, the family of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished on an unauthorized CIA mission to Iran 13 years ago, said it had been told that the U.S. government had concluded that he was dead. U.S. officials have not said what evidence led them to make that determination. ___ Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP.
  • President Donald Trump has the biggest megaphone, but it's governors and local officials who will decide what type of restrictions to impose on their citizens to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Constitution largely gives states the authority to regulate their own affairs. Trump has left guidelines limiting social interaction in place until the end of this month, after initially pushing April 12, Easter, as as the date to begin reopening the U.S. economy. Trump was moved by public health experts who showed him death tolls of 100,000 with strict measures in place, and hundreds of thousands of deaths more without. Initially, concerns were over states unwilling to open up by Easter, but now, the friction is over certain states unwilling to issue shutdown orders and calls for the president to issue a nationwide lockdown. Some questions and answers about the legal authority for shutting and reopening the U.S. economy. ___ Q. Does the president have the authority to override state and local orders? A. No. Under our constitutional system, states have the power and responsibility for maintaining public order and safety. As we've seen since the outbreak began, decisions about limiting social interactions by ordering people to shelter in place, closing businesses and shutting schools are being made by governors and local officials. Those same officials will make the call about when to ease up. Trump's comments “are just advisory,' said John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation. An increasing number of states have ordered all nonessential businesses and schools to close at least until the end of April. 'This battle is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone comprehends. We have never faced anything like this ever before, and I continue to urge the people of our state to stay in place at home and stay safe,' Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said recently. ___ Q. But the president has set a period until the end of April in which all Americans are being urged to drastically scale back their public activities. Doesn't that amount to a national order? A. No. The guidelines are voluntary, and they underscore the limits on Trump's powers. He can use daily briefings and his Twitter account to try to shape public opinion, and he has not been reluctant to do so. “When Donald Trump selects a narrative and begins to advance it, especially through his Twitter account, it has a remarkable effect on those who trust him,' said Robert Chesney, a University of Texas law professor wrote on the Lawfare blog. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted calls to shut down the entire state but relented Wednesday with a stay-at-home order as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon his county-by-county approach. ___ Q. Still, Trump has invoked some federal laws to address the virus outbreak, hasn't he? A. Yes, he has. The Stafford Act allows the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars in emergency assistance. The Defense Production Act allows the president to direct private companies to produce goods or acquire raw materials. Trump has yet to actually order companies to do anything, over the objection of some local officials who have a desperate need for ventilators, masks and other equipment. But Trump can only assert powers that Congress has specifically given him. “There are real limits on the president and the federal government when it comes to domestic affairs,” John Yoo, a University of California at Berkeley law school professor, said on a recent Federalist Society conference call. At the same time, the federal government has the power, under laws aimed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases, to quarantine people when they arrive in the United States and travel between states. ___ Q. Is it clear that state and local governments have authority to impose the severe restrictions we've seen? A. Lawsuits already are challenging state actions on religious grounds and as seizures of property for which the government must pay compensation. But for more than 100 years, the Supreme Court has upheld states' robust use of their authority, even when it restricts people's freedoms. In 1905, the court rejected a Massachusetts pastor's complaint that he should not be forced to get a smallpox vaccine or pay a fine, Malcolm noted. ___ Q. But we've seen the federal government curtail the public before, notably during World War II when people of Japanese descent, including U.S. citizens, were put into internment camps. Wasn't that the same? A. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used an executive order that designated certain areas as military zones to make camps. The Supreme Court in 1944 did uphold the internment in its notorious decision in Korematsu v. United States as a “military necessity” that was not based on race. In 2018, the court formally overruled Korematsu (even as it upheld Trump’s travel ban on people from several mainly Muslim countries. ) “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — ‘has no place in law under the Constitution,’’’ Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. ___ Associated Press writer Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is weighing grounding domestic flights between coronavirus hot spots as he ramps up efforts to try to contain the pandemic's spread. “We're thinking about doing that,' Trump told reporters at a White House briefing, a day after he warned the nation to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks,” with 100,000 to 240,000 coronavirus deaths projected, even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. Limited flights continue to run between cities like New York and Detroit, though passenger counts have plummeted across the nation. The Transportation Security Administration screened just 146,348 passengers Tuesday, down from 2,026,256 the same day last year. Nonetheless, Trump said he was looking at new restrictions, even as he voiced concern about the impact on already-struggling airlines, saying that, once you do that, “you really are clamping down” on “an industry that is desperately needed.” Trump, however, offered mixed messages during the briefing. He seemed to suggest that he was looking to temporarily ground all domestic flights, saying, “We’re looking at the whole thing because we’re getting into a position now where we want to do that, we have to do that ... and we may have some recommendations.” But pressed later on whether that was his intention, he said he was thinking of something less restrictive. “I am looking where flights are going into hot spots,” he said. “Closing up every single flight on every single airline, that's a very, very, very rough decision. But we are thinking about hot spots where you go from spot to spot, both hot. And we'll let you know fairly soon.” Trump also said he was considering similar restrictions on train travel, while claiming, incorrectly, that anyone boarding a plane or train is currently subjected to “very strong tests for getting on, getting off.' Trump in the past has said he was reluctant to ground flights because of challenges in getting the system back up and running once the threat posed by the virus fades. “When you start closing up entire transportation systems and then opening them up, that's a very tough thing to do,' he said Wednesday. Over the course of the crisis, Trump has been criticized for acting too slowly and for mixed messages from his administration. Over the weekend, he floated but then pulled back on the idea of a mandatory quarantine for residents of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut. In the end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging residents of the states to refrain from nonessential travel for the next 14 days. Indeed, Trump seemed to acknowledge Wednesday that perhaps he should have acted sooner. “It's a very big decision to do that, and we're pretty late in the process from the standpoint that this is starting,' he said. 'You're going to start seeing, I think over the next couple of weeks, you're going to start to see us hit a top and start coming down.” ___ Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Tehran should expect a bold U.S. response if Iran or Iranian-backed groups attack American forces or assets in Iraq. U.S.-Iran tensions soared following the Jan. 3 Washington-directed strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani outside Baghdad airport. Trump said at an evening White House briefing that his administration has received intelligence that Iran is planning a strike, but did not provide additional details. Iran has been blamed for an uptick in rocket attacks targeting Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops. Three separate attacks in the span of a week struck Camp Taji and Basmaya bases, killed three coalition servicemen, including two Americans, and injured scores of others. Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted: “Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and has steadily reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been eased or lifted under the terms of the deal. Last week, the administration slapped new sanctions on 20 Iranian people and companies for supporting Shia militia in Iraq held responsible for attacks on bases where U.S. forces are located. Currently, there are about 7,500 coalition troops in Iraq assisting and providing training to their Iraqi security counterparts to fight the Islamic State group.
  • The husband of Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler recently acquired as much as $415,000 in stock in DuPont de Nemours, a chemical company that manufactures protective equipment in exceedingly high demand because of the coronavirus pandemic. The transaction, detailed in a mandatory disclosure the Republican filed late Tuesday, comes as senators in both parties have faced questions about the stock transactions they made in the weeks before the coronavirus upended the U.S. economy, wiping out jobs and personal wealth. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., whose sales of as much as $1.7 million in stocks have come under the most scrutiny, requested an ethics review of his actions in the days before markets dropped in February. The FBI has also contacted him about the sale. He has denied trading on inside information. Like Burr, Loeffler came under fire last month after she and her husband dumped substantial portions of their portfolio. The transactions came after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic. The new purchases disclosed by Loeffler include the purchase of DuPont stock, a company that could see profits soar from the sale of protective equipment as hospitals search for desperately needed supply. Loeffler says she had no involvement in the trades. “Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors,' said spokeswoman Kerry Rom. “Sen. Loeffler continues to operate with integrity and transparency –- following both the spirit and the letter of the law.” Their latest financial moves are likely to give more ammunition to critics of the newly appointed senator, who is on the ballot this year. Her top Republican primary rival, Rep. Doug Collins, previously accused her of “profiting” while “people are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements.” The mandatory disclosures senators must make do not detail specific amounts of stock sales or purchases. Instead, they give a range in dollars of the value of each transaction. Tuesday's filing shows Loeffler's husband purchased anywhere between about $166,000 and $415,000 in DuPont, spread across four transactions in late February and early March. The company's website says “thousands of DuPont employees are working around the clock in all parts of the world to increase capacity of protective garments during this time of high demand.' The purchase represented just a portion of their recent financial activity. They also bought as much as $250,000 in Chevron, as much as $50,000 in Amazon and as much as $350,000 in CME Group, the new disclosure shows. At the same time, they sold between about $100,000 and $250,000 in DocuSign stock, sold as much as $150,000 in Facebook stock and unloaded holdings in retail stores like Ross, TJ Maxx and Lululemon. Loeffler's husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. A separate disclosure made Tuesday reveals he recently sold between about $6 million and $30 million of stock in its parent company, Intercontinental Exchange. Loeffler, who also worked for Intercontinental Exchange, sold between $5 million and $25 million in stock from the company while exercising an option that gave her as much as $25 million more. Stock options are one of the primary ways the couple is paid by the company. The couple's new investment in DuPont drew notice from government watchdog groups, particularly because they also recently invested in a tech company that offers telecommuting software that could also benefit from the pandemic. “I think it deserves an extra amount of scrutiny because when she did the first round of sales after she got nonpublic information, she also bought a stock in a telecommuting company,” said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed a Senate ethics complaint against Loeffler and Burr last month. “This would follow that pattern, which is why it does raise an eyebrow, and it's one of those things that even if it doesn't go to the level of breaking the law or any rules, it looks bad.”

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • After complaints by workers on the front lines, Amazon is going to give employees face masks and temperature checks at all warehouses in the U.S. and Europe. The safety measures will also be rolled out to Whole Foods stores, Reuters reported. The workplace adjustments will be in play by early next week, company officials said. Some workers in New York and Chicago held a strike saying they were not working in a safe environment, BuzzFeed News reported. One worker, who was told to stay home with pay, picketed outside a Staten Island location. The employee, Chris Smalls, was fired for not staying home, company officials said. Smalls said he ignored the quarantine order. “I stood with my co-workers because conditions at JFK8 are legitimately dangerous for workers and the public. We won’t stop until Amazon provides real protections for our health and safety and clarity for everybody about what it is doing to keep people safe in the middle of the worst pandemic in our lifetimes,” Smalls said via email, according to BuzzFeed News. New York City’s Commission on Human Rights is investigating Smalls’ firing. He also says he is playing on filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The company will supply surgical masks early next week. N95 masks Amazon intended to use will be donated to medical workers or sold to the government at cost, the company said. The company is going to add software that will monitor cameras to make sure employees stay a safe distance from each other. Amazon officials said temperature checks have started at some facilities, checking more than 100,000 employees every day, the company said in a press release. More sites will start checking people for fevers of more than 100.4, sending those who register higher than that number home, according to Reuters.
  • Right now, it’s more important than ever to limit your exposure inside public places like grocery stores. But we still need essential items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies! The last thing you want to do is trek to Walmart—only to find the shelves empty. Check out InStok.org. You type in the search bar the item you’re looking for and your zipcode (to find the store nearest you.) There is a disclaimer saying, 'If an item is not on the shelf, it is possibly at the back or someone must've bought the item since inventory was last updated. This is just a tool to guide you in the right direction instead of randomly trying different stores. If you really need an item, call and speak to a store associate in advance. Please do not buy more than you need.'  ABC News reports InStok was created by two teenage University of Austin students in March to help consumers find products nearby.  You can compare prices from various stores, as well as get text alerts for when products are back in stock. 
  • A former television meteorologist and mayor’s spokesman was arrested after sending threatening emails to a Nebraska county health official, investigators said. Ronald Penzkowski, also known by his on-air name Ron Gerard, sent 15 to 30 hostile emails to Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department from March 25 to March 31, investigators said Wednesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Wayne Hudson said Penzkowski attempted to conceal his identity while sending the “threatening and disturbing” emails, the World-Herald reported. The emails were directed at Pour’s response to the coronavirus and threatened to “lynch” and “slice her throat.” They would come from a new email address each time they were blocked. One of the emails was sent from the name Frank Gorshin, an actor who played the Riddler on the “Batman” television show, KETV reported. Investigators traced the emails back to Penzkowski. They are also looking to see if other emails can be traced to him. Penzkowski was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats and stalking, KETV reported. “They make those decisions with one common goal, and that’s to protect the public,” Hudson told the World-Herald. “If we get further reports of public officials being threatened, we’re going to take them seriously and we’re going to investigate them thoroughly.” Pour has worked as director of the health department since 2002, the World-Herald reported. Penzkowski worked as director of communications under Mayor Jim Suttle before resigning in 2010. Before that, he worked as a television meteorologist. There are 249 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths in Nebraska, The New York Times reported.
  • Nearly 952,000 people worldwide -- including more than 216,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.  Live updates for Thursday, April 2, continue below:  273 new coronavirus infections reported in North Carolina Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 2: Health officials in North Carolina on Thursday announced 273 new coronavirus infections, bringing the state’s total to 1,857, WSOC-TV reported. The number includes 184 people who were hospitalized Thursday, according to WSOC-TV. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have reported 16 deaths due to coronavirus. Officials have administered 28,679 tests. Putin extends non-working order through April across Russia Update 12:05 p.m. EDT April 2: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered most Russians to stay off work until the end of the month as part of a partial economic shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking in a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Putin said he was extending the non-working policy he ordered earlier for this week to remain in force throughout April. He emphasized that all employees should continue earning their regular salaries during the period. Putin said some essential industries will keep operating, and grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. “The threat remains, and experts believe that the epidemic is yet to reach its peak in the world, including our country,” Putin said. New York to begin coordinating with hospitals to redistribute medical supplies as needed Update 11:55 a.m. EDT April 2: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said officials will ask hospitals to complete a survey about what medical supplies they have on hand with the goal to redistribute supplies as needed amid the coronavirus outbreak. “We’re coordinating the health care system like never before,” Cuomo said Thursday at a news conference. Cuomo said officials are asking hospitals to contribute excess supplies to a central stockpile for distribution to hospitals that need them. “Some hospitals have more supplies than they’re using,” Cuomo said. “We’re saying, ‘Don’t hoard supplies.’” New York has the highest number of reported coronavirus infections in the country, with more than 90,000 people falling ill. Reports of COVID-19 top 8,000 in Florida Update 11:50 a.m. EDT April 2: Health officials in Florida announced Thursday that 8,010 coronavirus cases have been reported statewide, up 237 from the 7,773 reports as of Wednesday night, WFTV reported. Officials also reported 27 new fatal COVID-19 cases Thursday, raising the state’s coronavirus death toll to 128. Authorities distributing hoarded medical supplies seized from suspected price gougers Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 2: Authorities announced Thursday that they are distributing more than 190,000 N95 respirator masks, hundreds of thousands of medical-grade gloves and other medical equipment seized during an investigation into alleged price gouging during the COVID-19 outbreak. Officials with the FBI discovered the supplies, which also included 130,000 surgical masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, particulate filters and bottles of hand sanitizer, during an enforcement operation on March 30. Authorities alerted the Department of Health and Human Services, which used the Defense Production Act to seize the supplies for distribution to health care workers on the front lines in New York and New Jersey. “This is the first of many such investigations that are underway,” Defense Production Act policy coordinator Peter Navarro said Thursday in a news release. “All individuals and companies hoarding any of these critical supplies, or selling them at well above market prices, are hereby warned they should turn them over to local authorities or the federal government now or risk prompt seizure by the federal government.” Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services will pay the owner for the found equipment at “pre-COVID-19 fair market value.” The supplies will be delivered to the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk dumped amid surplus caused by COVID-19 Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 2: Many dairy processing plants across Wisconsin have more product than they can handle and that’s forced farmers to begin dumping their milk down the drain. That’s the case at Golden E Dairy near West Bend. Farmer Ryan Elbe told WISN-TV they are dumping about about 30,000 gallons (113,562 litres) a day. The coronavirus has dried up the marketplace for dairy products as restaurants, schools and food service businesses have been closed. About one-third of the state’s dairy products, mostly cheese, are sold in the food-service trade. The Journal Sentinel reported that Elbe’s cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay them for milk that’s being dumped. But like most cooperatives, DFA can only afford to do that for so long. Elbe’s parents started the farm with 80 cows in 1991, an operation that has grown to 2,400 cows today. Amazon to check employees’ temperatures, deploy masks beginning next week, report says Update 11 a.m. EDT April 2: Amazon will begin checking temperatures and handing out face masks for staff members at all its Whole Foods locations and at warehouses in Europe and the U.S. as employees continue working during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. Company officials told Reuters they would begin checking employee temperatures beginning next week using no-contact forehead thermometers. Anyone determined to have a temperature over 100.4 Fahrenheit will be sent home, the news site reported. Amazon officials also told Reuters its locations will be getting surgical masks by early next week. Michigan suspending in-person classes through end of school year Update 10:45 a.m. EDT April 2: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan on Thursday announced schools in the state would be closed through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Detroit Free Press. “My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19,' Whitmer said in a statement obtained by the Free Press. “For the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year.” The decision will impact about 1.5 million students in Michigan, the Free Press reported. Remote learning will continue for students in the state. Defense Department providing 100,000 body bags to FEMA Update 10:15 a.m. EDT April 2: The Department of Defense is working to fulfill a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 100,000 body bags as the coronavirus death toll rises in the U.S., according to multiple reports. In a statement obtained by CNN, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said the request was being filled in line with a longstanding agreement with FEMA “to procure key commodities from (the Defense Logistics Agency’s) industrial partners during crisis response operations.” “DLA is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies,” the statement said. Stocks open higher after early stumble Update 9:55 a.m. EDT April 2: Stocks opened modestly higher on Wall Street Thursday, a day after dropping 4.4%. Stocks had been headed for an even higher open until the Labor Department reported that more than 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, double the record high set just one week earlier. It was the latest sign that large numbers of Americans are losing their jobs as the economic damage from the coronavirus accelerates. The U.S. and other large economies are widely believed to have sunk into severe recessions as businesses shut down the world. The price of crude oil jumped 8% to about $22 a barrel. Still unclear why some COVID-19 patients get sicker than others, Fauci says Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 2: The nation’s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Thursday that officials are no closer to figuring out why some seemingly healthy people infected by the new coronavirus develop only mild or no symptoms but others become very sick. During an interview Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, Fauci said he’s been “puzzled from the beginning” about the coronavirus pandemic. “It is very strange how one individual can get infected and have either mild or no symptoms and another individual could rapidly deteriorate with viral pneumonia and respiratory failure,” Fauci said. “There’s something in mechanism, whether it’s genetic, whether it’s immune response.” Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He said on “Today” that it’s “very strange” how the virus can be “completely devastating” and lead to “viral pneumonia and respiratory failure” in one person and be “absolutely nothing” in another person. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he’s been working in infectious diseases for almost 50 years but doesn’t “fully understand exactly what the mechanism of that is.' He said finding the answer is going to require natural history studies, which follow people over time while collecting their health information. Officials report 569 new fatal coronavirus cases in the UK Update 9:30 a.m. EDT April 2: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 569 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 2,921. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced 4,244 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. In all, officials said 33,718 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. New England Patriots jet flying medical supplies from China to Boston Update 9:20 a.m. EDT April 2: A private plane owned by the New England Patriots will land Thursday in Boston with needed medical supplies to help in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple reports. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said Thursday that the plane, was carrying more than one million N95 masks from China, according to ABC News. A source told CNN that Baker coordinated with the Patriots and the team’s owner, Robert Kraft, to get the supplies to the state. “Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen,” Baker wrote Thursday. Fauci: There’s still time to avoid 100,000 deaths from coronavirus in US Update 9:05 a.m. EDT April 2: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, emphasized Thursday that Americans still have time to avoid the 100,000 to 200,000 deaths predicted in the U.S. from the coronavirus outbreak. “It’s within our power to modify those numbers,” Fauci said in an appearance Thursday on “CBS This Morning.” On Sunday, President Donald Trump said that if his administration can keep deaths from the virus to 100,000, that would be a “good job.” The number was based on a model which showed that “even with considerable mitigation, you still could anticipate between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths,” Fauci said Thursday. “We shouldn’t give up and accept it and say, 'OK that’s going to happen,” Fauci told 'CBS News This Morning.” “We need to push and push with the mitigation to try to get that number lower than the projected number by the model.” Record 6.6 million seek US jobless aid Update 8:40 a.m. EDT April 2: More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, far exceeding a record high set just last week, a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus. The job cuts are mounting against the backdrop of economies in the United States and abroad that have almost certainly sunk into a severe recession as businesses close across the world. The figure for last week is much higher than the previous record of 3.3 million reported for the previous week. The surging layoffs have led many economists to envision as many as 20 million lost jobs by the end of April. The unemployment rate could spike to as high as 15% this month, above the previous record of 10.8% set during a deep recession in 1982. Boeing offering employees voluntary layoffs Update 8:25 a.m. EDT April 2: Boeing will offer employees voluntary layoffs in a bid to offset the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to KIRO-TV and CNBC. “We’re in uncharted waters,” the company’s new CEO, David Calhoun, wrote in a memo sent to employees, according to KIRO-TV. “We’re taking actions — including offering this (voluntary layoff) plan — based on what we know today.” Boeing has more than 150,000 employees worldwide. >> Read more on KIRO7.com: Boeing announces it will be cutting workers Global coronavirus deaths near 50K, worldwide cases approach 952K Update 7:24 a.m. EDT April 2: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 48,284 early Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 951,901 people worldwide. • The United States has reported 216,722 cases, resulting in 5,137 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 110,574 cases, resulting in 13,155 deaths. • Spain has reported 110,238 infections, resulting in 10,003 deaths. • China has recorded 82,431 cases, resulting in 3,322 deaths. • Germany has reported 77,981 cases, resulting in 931 deaths. • France has confirmed 57,780 infections, resulting in 4,043 deaths. • Iran has recorded 50,468 cases, resulting in 3,160 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 29,872 cases, resulting in 2,357 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 18,117 cases, resulting in 505 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 15,679 cases, resulting in 277 deaths. Spain’s coronavirus death toll tops 10K after highest single-day increase Update 6:56 a.m. EDT April 2: At least 10,003 people have died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Spain, the country’s health ministry announced Thursday. The latest figures include 950 fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours alone, representing the European nation’s largest single-day increase since the pandemic began. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, Spain has reported a total of 110,238 infections and trails only Italy in terms of virus-related fatalities where 13,155 people have died. New unemployment claims could hit 3.1 million Update 6:44 a.m. EDT April 2: Economists anticipate an additional 3.1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to force business closures, layoffs and financial uncertainty. According to The Wall Street Journal, a record 3.3 million people sought jobless benefits two weeks ago, and the 3.1 million surveyed economists believe filed last week comprise more claims than those which have been processed in the past six months.  British docs receive guidance on parsing out ‘scarce lifesaving resources’ amid coronavirus Update 5:49 a.m. EDT April 2: The British Medical Association has issued new ethics guidelines dictating which patients should be saved if the United Kingdom’s health system becomes overwhelmed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. ]Per the new guidelines, ventilators could be removed from treatment protocols for older patients with a low survival probability if the machines mean healthier patients might survive. 'As such, some of the most unwell patients may be denied access to treatment such as intensive care or artificial ventilation,' the BMA’s ethics guidance note states, adding, “This will inevitably be indirectly discriminatory against both the elderly and those with long-term health conditions, with the latter being denied access to life-saving treatment as a result of their pre-existing health problems.' The guidance note was updated April 1. ‘Unruly’ coronavirus quarantine violators could be shot, Philippine president says Update 3:16 a.m. EDT April 2: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned during a Wednesday address that citizens who disregard the nationwide novel coronavirus quarantine and become unruly could be shot by authorities. Duterte’s remarks came during a televised address, covered by CNN Philippines. “My orders to the police, the military and the barangays: If they become unruly and they fight you and your lives are endangered, shoot them dead!” Duterte said. Israel’s health minister tests positive for coronavirus Update 2:52 a.m. EDT April 2: Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, 71, has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. The health ministry confirmed Litzman’s illness in a statement issued Thursday. Litzman has held the position for nearly a decade. To date, Israel has confirmed 6,092 coronavirus cases, resulting in 26 deaths. Coronavirus pandemic fueling gun sale background check surge, FBI says Update 2:39 a.m. EDT April 2: The FBI reported a record-setting number of gun purchase background checks during the month of March as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the globe. According to data released by the bureau, the 3.7 million checks conducted in March represent a 41 percent month-over-month surge and the most processed during a one-month period since the FBI began tracking the information in 1998. Illinois led the nation in March with more than half a million federal firearm background checks conducted, followed by Texas, Kentucky, Florida and California, CNN reported. Click here to see the FBI data. Boeing preps to offer buyouts, early retirement amid coronavirus cash crunch Update 2:10 a.m. EDT April 2: Aerospace giant Boeing could soon begin offering early retirement and buyout packages to employees as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues pummeling the aviation industry, The Wall Street Journal reported. Read more here. Biden says Democratic National Convention likely to be postponed amid coronavirus crisis Update 1:28 a.m. EDT April 2: The Democratic National Convention will likely be shelved for several months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said during a Wednesday night webcam interview on “The Tonight Show.”The “I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July,” Biden said, adding, “I think it’s going to have to move into August.” The convention is currently slated for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jazz icon Ellis Marsalis Jr., 85, dies from coronavirus complications Update 1:12 a.m. EDT April 2: Jazz legend and patriarch of a musical dynasty Ellis Marsalis Jr. died on Wednesday from complications associated with the novel coronavirus. He was 85. 'Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement, adding, “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”  US coronavirus deaths hit 5,119, total cases top 216K Update 12:20 a.m. EDT April 2: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 216,000 early Thursday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 216,515 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 5,119 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including more than twice the 110,574 reported in Italy and the 104,118 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,941 – or roughly 40 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 355 in New Jersey and 337 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 83,712 confirmed cases – or more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 22,255 and Michigan with 9,334. Five other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 8,155, including 171 deaths • Massachusetts: 7,738, including 122 deaths • Florida: 7,495, including 100 deaths • Illinois: 6,980, including 141 deaths • Louisiana: 6,424, including 273 deaths Meanwhile, Washington and Pennsylvania each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections, trailed only slightly by Georgia with 4,748 cases; Texas, Connecticut and Colorado each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A train engineer was suspicious of the government since the USNS Mercy arrived at the Port of Los Angeles. So federal officials said he drove a locomotive off the track directly toward the hospital ship, The Associated Press reported. The engine went through barriers and fences before stopping about 250 yards from the ship Tuesday, the AP reported. Eduardo Moreno has been charged with train wrecking, a federal charge, the US Department of Justice said. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison if found guilty. Officials said Moreno thought the Mercy was in the region because of a government takeover. Moreno said he acted alone and did not preplan the attack. A California Highway Patrol officer saw the crash and took Moreno into custody, the DOJ said.

Washington Insider

  • Amid continuing controversy over the best way to rush aid to working Americans, businesses, hospitals, and local governments to deal with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she would move to set up a new special panel in the U.S. House to oversee those efforts, saying it's important to have transparency about the massive amount of relief money. 'We need to ensure those dollars are spent effectively and carefully,' Pelosi said in a press conference by phone with reporters, as she said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) would be in charge of reviewing the $2 trillion in aid approved by Congress in March. 'We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to those working families struggling to pay rent and put food on the table who need it most,' Pelosi added. 'The fact is, we do need transparency, and we do need accountability,' the Speaker said. In making the announcement, the Speaker said this panel would be different than the call by other Democrats for a '9-11 Commission' about the Coronavirus, saying the emphasis must be on what's happening right now - not what happened before. 'The Select Committee is about the here and now,' Pelosi added. In describing the job of the new panel, the Speaker compared this to the work of the Truman Commission, named for then Sen. Harry Truman, who was put in charge of a panel which held hearings and investigated waste, fraud, and abuse related to the war effort during World War II. The idea - which would need a vote of the House to create the panel and fund its operations - drew immediate opposition from the top Republican in the House. 'This seems really redundant,' said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who told reporters by phone that he did not support the selection of Clyburn to run the panel, as the GOP leader questioned the goal, and said there was no reason to take oversight away from regular committees of the House. 'I'm not quite sure if this is political,' McCarthy added in a news briefing by telephone with reporters.