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    At least 722,000 people worldwide – including more than 142,000 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 Monday, March 30, continue below: FDA issues ‘emergency use authorization’ of anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus treatment Update 6:45 a.m. EDT March 30: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency use authorization' to allow two anti-malaria drugs donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to possibly be used to treat coronavirus patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a news release Sunday. HHS said it “accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals' on Sunday. The authorization allows the donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” the release said. In addition, the authorization “requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions,” according to the FDA’s website. Read more here or here. New York City to fine people who violate social-distancing rules Update 5:20 a.m. EDT March 30: New York City will fine those who fail to follow social-distancing guidelines, officials said. According to WPIX-TV, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the news in a Sunday news conference. “We’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” he said, adding that people could face fines of $250 to $500 if they continue to violate the rules after receiving a warning from police. The city has already shut down nonessential businesses and instructed to residents to stay inside when possible, WPIX reported. Budget airline EasyJet grounds entire fleet Update 4:32 a.m. EDT March 30: British airline EasyJet announced that it is grounding all of its 344 planes amid the coronavirus pandemic, ITV is reporting. According to CNN, the budget carrier’s decision takes effect Monday. “At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights,” the Luton-based airline said in a statement. The carrier tweeted Monday that entitlements for customers whose flights were canceled “are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart.” >> See the tweets here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' songwriter Alan Merrill dies of complications from virus Update 3:23 a.m. EDT March 30: Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill’s daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. “I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,” she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. “He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.” She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona’ and how it’ll ‘getcha’ ... boy, do I feel stupid,” she continued. “If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.” >> See the post here ″I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending “thoughts and love” to his loved ones and the music community. “I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Jett wrote. “With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” >> See the tweet here News of Merrill’s death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, “ET” reported. Costco to temporarily change store hours Update 1:31 a.m. EDT March 30: In an effort to help protect its customers, Costco announced it will temporarily implement new weekday closing hours for its locations nationwide. Beginning Monday, all its warehouses will close at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and its gas stations will close at 7 p.m. However, it said some specific locations’ hours would be different. The wholesale giant said its weekend hours would remain the same. For its members ages 60 and older and those with physical impairments, Costco has special operating hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Costco said it has made some temporary department changes to create more space for social distancing and is following CDC recommendations to minimize risk to its members and employees. U.S. cases soar past 142,000, including more than 2,500 deaths Update 12:39 a.m. EDT March 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 142,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 142,502 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,506 deaths. Worldwide, there are 722,435 confirmed cases and 33,997 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 97,689 reported in Italy and the 82,149 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 966 have occurred in New York, 200 in Washington state, 161 in New Jersey and 151 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 59,746 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 13,386, California with 6,284 and Michigan with 5,488. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Massachusetts: 4,955, including 48 deaths • Florida: 4,950, including 60 deaths • Illinois: 4,596, including 66 deaths • Washington: 4,493, including 200 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • Tulsa Police Department responded to reports of a shooting Saturday night at the Ivy Place Apartments.  Police arrived at the apartment complex around 11:30 Saturday when they say they found the woman shot in the chest and upper arm.  Cops say, according to witnesses, an altercation had occurred earlier in the week between the victim’s son and the suspect, Toby Bearshead. During that altercation Bearshed had allegedly pointed a gun at the victim’s son.  On Saturday night, witnesses told police the victim arrived at the Ivy Place Apartments to confront Bearshed about the alleged incident.  Police say witnesses told them at one point during the altercation, Bearshead allegedly fired a shotgun at the woman’s upper torso and right arm above the elbow.  The victim was taken to St. John Medical Doctor and is expected to be okay.  Bearshed is now in custody and will be charged with shooting with Intent kill.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida charged 50-year-old David White with using a hoax weapon of mass destruction after he sprayed a substance labeled “COVID-19” on the doors and entrance of a Jacksonville business, deputies said. JSO said White told employees and patrons of the business they were now infected with coronavirus after he sprayed the substance. JSO’s Intelligence Unit and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident and identified White as the suspect. The business took precautionary measures to sanitize the area where White sprayed the substance.
  • Governor Stitt announced a new executive order regarding traveling: “As we continue to respond to #COVID19, I have issued an EO requiring travelers from six states to self-quarantine for 14 days, requiring delivery personnel to submit to screenings upon request at hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities and day cares and protecting health care workers and their families from discrimination in housing or childcare. Our health care workers are the true heroes in this fight against COVID-19. These protections will help us #FlattenTheCurve and continue to keep our health care workers and their families safe as they take care of their fellow Oklahomans.” You can read the order here.  As of this advisory, there are 429 positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma. New counties with cases include Garfield, Rogers, Seminole and Texas counties. These counties will now be required to come into compliance with Governor Kevin Stitt's 'Safer at Home' executive order that calls for non-essential businesses in counties with COVID-19 cases to temporarily suspend services until April 16.  There is an additional deaths in Oklahoma: One in Oklahoma County: a male over age 50-64 There are 16 total deaths in the state. Governor Stitt’s “Safer at Home” Executive Order remains in place thru April 30 for all 77 counties in Oklahoma, requiring those over the age of 65 as well as immunocompromised children and adults to shelter at home unless getting groceries, attending a medical appointment, or participating in a daily exercise.  The Stitt administration and Oklahoma hospitals are together working on a plan to increase ICU capacities by 40%. In addition, the Governor on Friday requested FEMA to begin a survey for additional locations where the State could expand hospital locations for treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Oklahoma State University released a message on Saturday confirming a student tested positive: 'Today we learned a student on our Stillwater campus has tested positive for COVID-19. This confirmed case makes it clear COVID-19 has now impacted our campus community. Following CDC guidelines and directed by health officials, individuals who may have been in close contact with this person previously were contacted and provided information on next steps for screening and self-quarantine, if necessary. The student followed a strict self-quarantine protocol at their residence after the COVID-19 test was performed ten days ago. The person experienced mild symptoms and is nearing a complete recovery.  We have acted by taking unprecedented steps over the last few weeks to protect our campus community and do our part to prevent the spread of this virus. We will continue to act and do everything we can to flatten the curve through social distancing and other measures as outlined by the CDC and the governor’s Executive Order. We will continue to communicate updates as developments warrant. I sincerely appreciate the concern, patience and kindness shown throughout the Cowboy Family. Please continue to be vigilant, and stay safe.
  • Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll,' died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill's daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. 'I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,' she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. 'He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.' She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. 'I’ve made a million jokes about the 'Rona' and how it’ll 'getcha' ... boy, do I feel stupid,' she continued. 'If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.' >> See the post here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to 'Entertainment Tonight.' Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending 'thoughts and love' to his loved ones and the music community. 'I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,' Jett wrote. 'With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.' >> See the tweet here News of Merrill's death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, 'ET' reported. Read more here or here.
  • Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 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. Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country’s largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs. Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported. “Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.” The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported. “We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement. Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection. He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported. “He wouldn’t go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, ‘You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.’ Of course, he resisted,” his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Tough guy.” Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported. Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences. “He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.” There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials. Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility  Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. First person in West Virginia dies from virus Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released. “We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement. West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus. Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’  Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died. The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized. The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work. No staff member has tested positive. Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page. His family has asked for privacy at this time. Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000 Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported. The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths. Moscow mayor issues quarantine order Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow’s mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported. The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital’s confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported. Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000 Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported. Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported. Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported. Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported. Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8 Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines’ Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate. Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said. “There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger,” Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post. Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should “Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that.' “(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said. Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report. Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported. UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK. US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department’s civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said. Severino told the Times his office had heard from “a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis.” India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India’s prime minister asled the nation’s poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages. “I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen,” Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. “When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them.” Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported. Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said. Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS. The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday. Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19 Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. “This can’t be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now,' Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. 'And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home.” Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico. Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Spain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797. The country’s 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reported. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University. Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong travel advisory” for the states, he tweeted Saturday night. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump added. >> See the tweets here The advisory, which now appears on the CDC’s website, “urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” “This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply,” the advisory reads. The states’ governors “will have full discretion to implement” the advisory, the website says. >> See the CDC’s tweets here Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand. As part of Providence’s 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks. Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn’t take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence’s call. “I said, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and about five minutes later she texted me saying, ‘Yeah, we want to talk.’ And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day,” Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz. In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it’s going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it’s working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time. Providence is referring manufacturers in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association. Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts. Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19 Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media. In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning. 'My family and I are asking for privacy at this time,' the statement read. 'We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.' >> See the post here According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun.' He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York’s hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients. The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday. The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site. “People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.” This comes a week after Samaritan’s Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy. U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths • Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths • Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths • Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walk out Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.
  • A couple whose wedding party was canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak donated the reception meals to feed 400 hospital workers. Fiona and Adam Gordon were wed March 21 in a small ceremony with two witnesses, The Independent reported. The large reception they had planned for 120 guests was canceled. However, the caterer had already purchased the food. The roast beef, canapes and hog roast had to go somewhere. The caterer asked the couple if they would be willing to donate it. They said yes. A charity group, Hull4Heroes, helped serve the food over the weekend to grateful health care staff. 'We’re just happy to help bring a bit of light in the middle of all this. It is times such as these when you realize what’s important,” Fiona Gordon told The Birmingham Mail. “The fact that we managed to help in some way because of this is a silver lining.”
  • Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Prine is considered one of the most influential songwriters of his generation. He is known for songs including “In Spite of Ourselves,” “Fish and Whistle,” and “I Just Want To Dance With You.” He has won two Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • After talking for days about relaxing federal calls for Americans to drastically restrict their social activities in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he would be extending those guidelines through the end of April, after new estimates showed the threat of a huge number of deaths from the virus outbreak. 'The peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,' the President told reporters gathered in the Rose Garden. 'Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.' 'We will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread,' Mr. Trump said, urging Americans to help by limiting their social activities.  'The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,' the President added. The President said the decision was made after new modeling made available to the White House estimated the death totals from the Coronavirus could run over 1 million unless strong mitigation efforts were taken by Americans. At the White House, top federal experts endorsed the President's course change. 'We feel that the mitigation we are doing right now is having an effect 'The decision to prolong - not prolong, but extend - this mitigation process until the end of April, I think was a wise and prudent decision,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci. White House Coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx said the 'growing number of potential fatalities' shown by the models made clear the need for more action to hold down the spread of the virus. Birx told reporters it is 'not a simple situation when you ask people to stay home for another 30 days, so they have to know that we really built this on scientific evidence and the potential to save hundreds of thousands of American lives.' “To every metro area out there, we have to do better,' Dr. Birx said at the Sunday briefing.
  • The mayors of OKlahoma's two largest cities have announced they will expand and more closely enforce “stay at home” measures for the general public as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum enacted a 'Shelter in Place' order on Saturday for all age groups in the city to last from March 28 to April 16.  The 'Safer at Home' order mirrors the executive order made by Governor Stitt on Tuesday.   Mayor Bynum's order was announced hours after 7 more COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
  • With some public friction over the federal Coronavirus response, President Donald Trump on Friday again singled out the Governor of Michigan and the Governor of Washington State for criticism, telling reporters that he had discouraged Vice President Mike Pence from calling either one to discuss the virus response. 'When they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps (of Engineers), they're not appreciative to FEMA. It's not right,' President Trump said at a Friday White House briefing. 'All I want them to do, very simple, I want them to be appreciative,' the President added. 'We've done a great job,' the President said. 'I think the media and governors should appreciate it.' The President's comments came as he continued to spar long distance with Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) of Michigan. Inslee has already been a frequent target of the President - who referred to him in one briefing as a 'snake' - acknowledging that he has urged Vice President Pence not to call the Washington Democrat. 'I say Mike, don't call the Governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him,' Mr. Trump said. 'Don't call the woman in Michigan.' In an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the President took aim at Whitmer, who has complained of troubles in getting medical supplies for hospitals to combat the virus outbreak. 'We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about from Michigan,' the President said. While Gov. Whitmer went on TV to respond to the President, Inslee used Mr. Trump's favored mode of social media. 'I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy,' Inslee tweeted. While Inslee avoided barbs from the White House on Friday night, Whitmer did not. “Governor, Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her ahead, she doesn’t have a clue,” the President tweeted. Michigan has become a flash point in recent days in the fight to stop the Coronavirus; 32 deaths were announced on Friday, almost as many as the two previous days combined. 28 deaths were announced on Friday in Washington State, raising the death toll there to 175 people, second most of any state.
  • It was a scary day on Friday for Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who sent a message on Twitter that his son Jim took a bad fall while playing with his brothers at the family's ranch and hit his head. “He was unconscious and his vitals were very weak.  They had to life-flight him to Tulsa,” Mullin said in a video clip that he posted to Twitter as he was on his way back to Tulsa from Washington D.C. Since he first got word about the accident from his wife, he says his son has improved and was due released soon, Mullin citing the need to free up beds at the hospital for the Covid-19 crisis. He also voiced his appreciation for the prayers that were sent to him by friends and supporters.
  • With the backing of the White House and leaders in both parties, the U.S. House on Friday approved an emergency economic rescue plan to help the economy deal with the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, as lawmakers on both sides put aside their differences on the details of the over $2 trillion package.  President Trump signed it into law several hours later. 'We need to support this bill now,' said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). 'The coronavirus has been a nuclear bomb to our economy,' said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). 'We've never faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,' said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). The main theater in the House Chamber during debate was not about who was for or against the bill, but whether Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) would follow through on his threat to force a recorded vote on the measure, amid questions about whether enough lawmakers were present for a quorum. Under the rules, Massie - who did not speak during the debate - needed the support of several dozen lawmakers to force a vote. But Massie did not get that backing, and the bill was approved on a voice vote, to the applause of lawmakers, who sat both on the House floor, and in the galleries above. In debate, lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns about how their local hospitals might not be able to deal with an outbreak of the virus. 'For those from rural districts like mine, our hospitals cannot handle the onslaught of patients,' said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL). 'Hospitals in my district face a situation as dire as it has been in my 18 years in Congress.' Lawmakers who flew back to Washington for the debate said the impact on the airline industry was obvious. 'There were two members of Congress on the plane out of a total of four passengers,' said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who flew from St. Louis.  'You don't think that industry is on the brink of collapse - use it right now, and you will see,' Davis added. The House vote came as a third member of the House announced that he had tested positive, Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman Democrat from South Carolina. The package includes direct checks to Americans, billions in emergency aid for businesses big and small, money for state and local governments, and help for hospitals fighting the Coronavirus. “This is the biggest economic and health crisis the country has ever faced,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Washington Insider

  • After talking for days about relaxing federal calls for Americans to drastically restrict their social activities in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he would be extending those guidelines through the end of April, after new estimates showed the threat of a huge number of deaths from the virus outbreak. 'The peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,' the President told reporters gathered in the Rose Garden. 'Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.' 'We will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread,' Mr. Trump said, urging Americans to help by limiting their social activities.  'The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,' the President added. The President said the decision was made after new modeling made available to the White House estimated the death totals from the Coronavirus could run over 1 million unless strong mitigation efforts were taken by Americans. At the White House, top federal experts endorsed the President's course change. 'We feel that the mitigation we are doing right now is having an effect 'The decision to prolong - not prolong, but extend - this mitigation process until the end of April, I think was a wise and prudent decision,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci. White House Coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx said the 'growing number of potential fatalities' shown by the models made clear the need for more action to hold down the spread of the virus. Birx told reporters it is 'not a simple situation when you ask people to stay home for another 30 days, so they have to know that we really built this on scientific evidence and the potential to save hundreds of thousands of American lives.' “To every metro area out there, we have to do better,' Dr. Birx said at the Sunday briefing.
  • With some public friction over the federal Coronavirus response, President Donald Trump on Friday again singled out the Governor of Michigan and the Governor of Washington State for criticism, telling reporters that he had discouraged Vice President Mike Pence from calling either one to discuss the virus response. 'When they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps (of Engineers), they're not appreciative to FEMA. It's not right,' President Trump said at a Friday White House briefing. 'All I want them to do, very simple, I want them to be appreciative,' the President added. 'We've done a great job,' the President said. 'I think the media and governors should appreciate it.' The President's comments came as he continued to spar long distance with Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) of Michigan. Inslee has already been a frequent target of the President - who referred to him in one briefing as a 'snake' - acknowledging that he has urged Vice President Pence not to call the Washington Democrat. 'I say Mike, don't call the Governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him,' Mr. Trump said. 'Don't call the woman in Michigan.' In an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the President took aim at Whitmer, who has complained of troubles in getting medical supplies for hospitals to combat the virus outbreak. 'We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about from Michigan,' the President said. While Gov. Whitmer went on TV to respond to the President, Inslee used Mr. Trump's favored mode of social media. 'I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy,' Inslee tweeted. While Inslee avoided barbs from the White House on Friday night, Whitmer did not. “Governor, Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her ahead, she doesn’t have a clue,” the President tweeted. Michigan has become a flash point in recent days in the fight to stop the Coronavirus; 32 deaths were announced on Friday, almost as many as the two previous days combined. 28 deaths were announced on Friday in Washington State, raising the death toll there to 175 people, second most of any state.
  • With the backing of the White House and leaders in both parties, the U.S. House on Friday approved an emergency economic rescue plan to help the economy deal with the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, as lawmakers on both sides put aside their differences on the details of the over $2 trillion package.  President Trump signed it into law several hours later. 'We need to support this bill now,' said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). 'The coronavirus has been a nuclear bomb to our economy,' said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). 'We've never faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,' said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). The main theater in the House Chamber during debate was not about who was for or against the bill, but whether Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) would follow through on his threat to force a recorded vote on the measure, amid questions about whether enough lawmakers were present for a quorum. Under the rules, Massie - who did not speak during the debate - needed the support of several dozen lawmakers to force a vote. But Massie did not get that backing, and the bill was approved on a voice vote, to the applause of lawmakers, who sat both on the House floor, and in the galleries above. In debate, lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns about how their local hospitals might not be able to deal with an outbreak of the virus. 'For those from rural districts like mine, our hospitals cannot handle the onslaught of patients,' said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL). 'Hospitals in my district face a situation as dire as it has been in my 18 years in Congress.' Lawmakers who flew back to Washington for the debate said the impact on the airline industry was obvious. 'There were two members of Congress on the plane out of a total of four passengers,' said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who flew from St. Louis.  'You don't think that industry is on the brink of collapse - use it right now, and you will see,' Davis added. The House vote came as a third member of the House announced that he had tested positive, Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman Democrat from South Carolina. The package includes direct checks to Americans, billions in emergency aid for businesses big and small, money for state and local governments, and help for hospitals fighting the Coronavirus. “This is the biggest economic and health crisis the country has ever faced,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
  • As Congress pushes ahead with a landmark economic stimulus plan to offset the negative impact of the Coronavirus, lawmakers not only put in provisions to funnel money to Americans and help businesses stay afloat, but also structured oversight for the billions in loans going to big businesses, and helped out a few specific players along the way. First, if you want to read through the text of the bill as approved by the Senate on Wednesday night, you can find the 880 page bill here. For those who want the short version, the table of contents for the bill gives you a good preview of what's to come. Now let's jump in and find a few interesting items in the bill. + 1. Restrictions aimed squarely at President Trump and his family. Section 4019 of the bill is titled, 'Conflicts of Interest,' and is intended to prohibit top government officials from benefiting in any way from the emergency aid being delivered in this bill. It lists the President, Vice President, member of Congress, top Executive Branch officials as people covered by this prohibition. But it goes further - adding, 'spouse, child, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law' as well. One GOP Senator pointed out the 'son-in-law' provision. 'I wonder who that could be targeted towards,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in a mocking tone, referring to Jared Kushner, as Lankford said Democrats were wrong to pursue such provisions. 'A lot of this fight that we've had over the last three days is because they were demanding that there was no way the President, or any member of his family could get any benefit from this loan program at all,' Lankford said. Democrats won those provisions. + 2. Temporary tax break for makers of hand sanitizer. With various alcohol producers switching over some of their production in recent weeks to make hand sanitizer, this bill also provides a temporary exception to the excise tax on the alcohol used to make hand sanitizer products. To an outsider, it shouldn't be any big deal for a liquor producer to shift into production of hand sanitizer, but in reality - it can have pretty big tax implications in how the federal government deals with the process. For example, after a company makes over 100,000 gallons of alcohol, the tax goes from $2.70 per gallon to over $13 per gallon. This provision on page 212 would allow those hand sanitizer products to be made without being hit by those higher taxes. Here was the social media appeal from one company in Maryland. 3. Special oversight for economic recovery spending. As part of provisions providing public insight into what companies get what kind of aid from the federal government, this bill sets up a special Inspector General inside the Treasury Department dealing with the 'Pandemic Recovery.' The internal watchdog would be charged with 'audits and investigations of the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under any program established by the Secretary under this Act.' There is also a new 'Congressional Oversight Commission,' with members appointed by various parts of the government, to oversee the operations of this economic recovery effort - all to guide against favoritism, and any questionable financial awards - much like there was with the Obama stimulus in 2009. 4. Postal Service gets special loan help. Just like after the anthrax attacks following Nine Eleven, the U.S. Postal Service finds itself in a crunch with the Coronavirus. Not only are some employees getting sick, but mail volume is going down - and that's leading to an even bleaker financial outlook. The Coronavirus rescue bill does not give a blank check to the Postal Service, but instead allows it to borrow up to $10 billion from the U.S. Treasury. Page 607 of the bill specifically says the money can only be used to pay for operating expenses - and not any outstanding debt of the Postal Service. The bill also orders the Postal Service to prioritize the delivery of medical products related to the Coronavirus, and also gives the Postal Service the right to establish 'temporary delivery points' during the outbreak, in order to shield employees from the virus. 5. Miscellaneous Provisions. Any reporter who has gone through Congressional spending bills starts to get a little excited when you get to the section labeled 'Miscellaneous Provisions' - and this bill does not disappoint. Starting on page 609, there is a laundry list of extra money sent to various government agencies to deal with the Coronavirus. Some, like money for food safety won't raise any eyebrows. But others were quickly getting the thumbs down from some GOP lawmakers who actually read their way through the details of the bill. 6. There is no Congressional Pay Raise. Let me say it again. There is no pay raise for members of the House and Senate, no matter what you read on Twitter or Facebook. The troublemakers on Twitter didn't take long in spreading fake news about the details of this bill, accusing lawmakers of voting themselves a pay raise. Let me be very clear - that did *not* happen in this bill. There is no reference to the underlying federal code which governs the pay of lawmakers (section 601(a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (2 U.S.C. 4501)).  Is there extra money for Congress in this bill? Yes, there is. The Senate gets $10 million, and the House gets $25 million. Where would that money go? It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with items like extra medical, safety, and security precautions for 435 members of the House. Expanded telework with laptops, servers, and more. Cleaning crews to deal with any outbreaks that might touch Congressional offices or the Capitol complex. And finally, even if lawmakers voted themselves a pay raise, they would not be allowed to get any extra money until the new Congress. That's not a law - that's in the Constitution.
  • The morning after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved an unprecedented $2 trillion economic rescue package to confront the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was already thinking ahead to the next Congressional move to spur economic growth. 'We have to do more,' the Speaker said at a U.S. Capitol news conference, as she told reporters about a phone conversation with Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 'The Chairman of the Fed, Mr. Powell said to me, interest rates are low, think big,'  'There's no question that more money will be needed,' Pelosi added, as she indicated there would be support to funnel more money directly to Americans. 'I don't think we've seen the end of direct payments,' the Speaker said. Pelosi said the House would vote Friday to approve the $2 trillion economic package, most likely by a voice vote. 'We will have a victory tomorrow for America's workers. If somebody has a different point of view they can put that in the record,' the Speaker said.