Coronavirus headlines: Man accused in fire at party that killed 36 freed over virus

News

May 4, 2020

(WJW) — As of Monday, there were 3,524,429 confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, including 1,158,341 in the United States.

According to John Hopkins University and Medicine, there have been 247,838 deaths worldwide. There have been 1,132,553 recoveries worldwide.

9:45 p.m. update:

DUBLIN, Calif. (AP) — A man facing a second trial after a fire killed 36 partygoers at a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse has been released from jail over coronavirus concerns. Derick Almena is accused of illegally converting the industrial building into a cluttered artists enclave with no fire alarms and few exits. He’s charged with involuntary manslaughter after a fire swept through a party in December 2016. A jury deadlocked on charges last year, and he faces a new trial in July. Almena was released Monday and will be under electronic monitoring. The jail where he was held has at least 35 confirmed cases of the virus.

8:25 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has made history by hearing arguments by telephone and allowing the world to listen in live, both for the first time. The arguments on Monday were essentially a high-profile conference call with the nine justices and two arguing lawyers. The session went remarkably smoothly. That’s notable for a high court that clings to tradition and only reluctantly changes the way it operates. The high court had initially postponed arguments in 20 cases because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the justices ultimately decided to hear 10 cases by phone over six days this month.

7:15 p.m. update:

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says it has received no evidence or data from the U.S. government to back up claims by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the coronavirus may have originated at a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said such claims were “speculative” and reiterated the U.N. health agency’s belief that the coronavirus was of natural origin. He said WHO would nonetheless be “very willing” to receive any information that could point to the origin of the outbreak. He conceded it would be up to the U.S. government to decide whether and when to share such information.

6 p.m. update:

(AP)– The number of background checks for firearms in the month of April remained high amid fears from the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI conducted about 2.9 million background checks last month. In one week alone, more than 765,000 checks were conducted, one of the busiest weeks on record. Still, the numbers fell from March which shattered a number of records related to the system designed to prevent people prohibited from possessing a firearm from purchasing one. Fears gun shops would be closed and that economic downturns would lead to high crime and safety concerns have helped fuel the run on firearms.

5:10 p.m. update:

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators are revising a policy that has allowed coronavirus blood tests to reach the U.S. market without first providing proof that they worked. The move Monday by the Food and Drug Administration follows criticism that the lack of oversight created a Wild West of unregulated tests. Under the new policy, companies with tests kits for sale will be required to submit information on their test’s accuracy within 10 days. The blood tests are designed to show who has had a coronavirus infection in the past and may have some immunity. Most use a finger-prick of blood on a test strip.

3:30 p.m. update:

(CNN) — Not even a week since reopening, the city of Miami Beach closed the popular South Pointe Park back up after thousands of visitors failed to wear face coverings and social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Miami Beach Police Department announced Monday that the park was closed until further notice after they issued 7,329 verbal face cover warnings and more than 470 warnings for failing to social distance between Friday and Sunday. Most of the violations were at South Pointe Park, according to MBPD.

South Pointe Park was one of several parks and recreational facilities in Miami Beach that reopened on April 29 under the city’s eased coronavirus restrictions.

Visitors were welcome as long as they wore face coverings at all times, kept their groups to less than 10 people, kept six feet apart from other groups, and didn’t participate in any organized activities, sports or classes.

But Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said the efforts by city authorities to enforce the rules were met with hostility and while officials tried to lessen the crowds by closing the park’s parking lot on Sunday, it didn’t help.

“We tried in good faith to open our parks to help folks get out and about safely. In almost every other park in the city, this experiment has been successful. South Pointe Park is the most egregious exception,” Morales said in a statement to CNN. “We have had city staff in the park to encourage people to comply, but they were met with hostility and non-compliance.”

“There is no way to effectively enforce social distancing when hundreds of individuals refuse to do so. The best way to protect our residents and first responders is to keep it closed until further notice,” Morales added.

In Southern California, two beach cities are pursuing legal action against Gov. Gavin Newsom after he ordered all beaches in Orange County to close starting last Friday. Newsom’s decision was met with nearly 3,000 people gathering at Huntington Beach to protest.

1:30 p.m. update

Internal Trump administration projections estimate that about 3,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus every day by June 1, according to CDC documents obtained by the New York Times.

The increased estimates come as states have eased restrictions and after a weekend many Americans spent outside at protests or enjoying spring days in the park. Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, among others, moved to loosen restrictions in an attempt to revive a sputtering economy and calm restless residents.

But the projections make clear that these reopenings come with fatal risks.

“It’s simple logic,” CNN’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said. “When you tell people, ‘Hey, you can go to bars, you can get your nails done, you can go to a restaurant,’ those numbers are going to go up.”

The novel coronavirus’s incubation period — or the time from exposure to developing symptoms — ranges from two to 14 days, according to the CDC, and the virus can even spread among people who show no symptoms at all. With widespread testing still limited, the consequences of these reopenings may not be evident for several weeks.

Even in reopening states, officials continue to recommend people stay at least 6 feet away from others, wear a cloth face mask outside the home, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face.

The public pressure to ease restrictions is rising even in states with significant outbreaks. This weekend, thousands gathered in California to protest coronavirus restrictions, leading to 32 arrests at the state capitol.

California is “days, not weeks” away from beginning to lift restrictions to the state’s stay-at-home order, saidGov. Gavin Newsom. But that likely won’t happen across the state. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he does not think the city will reopen earlier than May 15.

Other parts of California are already reopening. In Northern California, restaurants, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, shopping malls and gyms will all be open to residents of Yuba and Sutter counties.

Coronavirus has killed 67,686 people in the US and infected more than 1,150,000 others, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump had previously said he expected 65,000 Americans to die, but on Sunday night, he revised that estimated death toll up to 80,000-90,000 people. It may not be the last upward revision; Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House coronavirus task force official, said projections have shown between 100,000 to 240,000 American deaths, even with social distancing.

12:45 p.m. update

(WFLA) — Pinellas County beaches officially reopened to the public Monday morning at 7 a.m.

Groups will be limited to no more than 10 people and will need to stay six feet away from other groups of people.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said there will be more than 250 deputies present from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day from Tarpon Springs down to Fort Desoto. Gualtieri said there are 213 beach access points and they will all be monitored by a uniformed deputy.

11:15 a.m. update

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a morning of firsts for the Supreme Court, the first time audio of the court’s arguments can be heard live by the world and the first arguments by telephone. The changes are a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has made holding courtroom sessions unsafe, especially with six justices aged 65 or older and at risk of getting seriously sick from the virus. The historic session began at the usual time of 10 a.m. EDT, when Marshal Pamela Talkin called the court to order and Chief Justice John Roberts announced the day’s case.
  • NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of J.Crew is filing for bankruptcy protection, the first major retailer to do so since the pandemic forced most stores in the United States to close.

8 a.m. update

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, President Donald Trump insists that “you can satisfy both” — see states gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 67,000 Americans.

The president, fielding questions from Americans Sunday night in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.

Trump increased his projection for the total U.S. death toll to as many as 100,000 — up by as much as 40,000 from what he had suggested just a few weeks ago.

“Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people,” Trump said. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person out of this. This should have been stopped in China.”

But he struck a note of urgency to restart the nation’s economy, declaring, “We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible.”

After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Channel.

The president said of his monumental backdrop: “We never had a more beautiful set than this.”

As concerns mount about his reelection bid, Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation’s ability to rebound soon.

“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”

Many public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.

U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said in late April that it is conceivable if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.

Continuing coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, here, including the latest news from Ohio.

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