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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

 

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As historic protests continue to sweep the country two weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council announced it would move to disband the city’s police department. Nine members of the council — a veto-proof majority — made the vow during a community rally. The vow to disband the police came just days after the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. Congress is slated to introduce reforms that include a chokehold ban, a limit on qualified immunity for officers and a restriction on military weapons. While news reporting may be bias, social media videos of police brutality toward peaceful protestors has sparked many local governments to take action as the protests continue. Although many of these reforms will be subjected to a long debate among local officials, some activists say it is a good start.
In Louisville, KY, the City Council unanimously passed “Breonna’s Law” Thursday night that banned the use of “no-knock” warrants. The legislation was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was killed in her home while in bed in March by Louisville police officers while executing a no-knock warrant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended the use of no-knock warrants last month, said he will sign the bill. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.” The officers involved in Taylor’s death are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave.
New York’s state legislature voted to repeal parts of a provision that shielded police disciplinary records from the public. The repeal of 50-A means that police officers across the state must disclose personnel records used to evaluate performance. Criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the repeal for years. The legislation also bans officers from using chokeholds, prohibits false race-based 911 calls and appoints the state attorney general to be an independent prosecutor in any case where an officer shoots an unarmed person. The state Senate approved the bill and the state Assembly approved it with later in the day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a sweeping set of reforms that would shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors of the city’s budget. De Blasio said he will work with the city council to hammer out the details over the next three weeks, but told reporters Monday that the amount would be “something substantial.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she will sign the emergency legislation passed by the City Council that bans the police from using neck restraints on suspects. The bill also bans the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The Council also passed a bill that requires the mayor to release police body camera video from any police-involved death or serious use of force within three days of the incident. The family members of the person involved in the incident will be the first to see the video, according to the bill’s language.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced short- and long-term changes to the city’s police force to address the concerns about police from residents. She said she will review the Seattle Police Department’s budget with a “special focus on listening community voices throughout the process.” Durkan has also called for an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute any police officers as well as updating the department’s procedures for mass protests.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the state will ban police departments from using chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints or similar tactics. Grewal said their use has led to several incidents where a suspect suffered asphyxiation. The order provides an exemption “in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on George Floyd Protests

George Floyd Protests

 

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Protests erupted in Minneapolis, Minnesota after video footage of the death of George Floyd, 46, went viral. Floyd died after being arrested by police outside a shop on May 25th on a report he used a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods, a grocery store. The video shows now fired police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck while he was laying on his stomach in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back. Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying “Please, I can’t breathe, please, please officer don’t kill me” for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Officer Chauvin held him pinned to the ground with his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.
In the video of the incident, a bystander tells the police: “You got him down. Let him breathe.” After Floyd says, “I’m about to die,” Chauvin tells Floyd to relax. The police ask Floyd: “What do you want?” Floyd repeats: “I can’t breathe.” Floyd continues: “Please, the knee in my neck, I can’t breathe.” The policemen taunt Floyd to “get up and get in the car,” to which Floyd replies: “I will… I can’t move.” Floyd also cries out: “Mama!” He then says “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts,” and requests water. The police do not audibly respond to Floyd. Floyd begs: “Don’t kill me.” A bystander points out that Floyd is bleeding from the nose. Another bystander tells the police that Floyd is “not even resisting arrest right now.”
The day after Mr. Floyd’s death, the Police Department fired all four of the officers involved and the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the criminal complaint against him. Video show that Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness and for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene. Floyd’s last words have been compared to those of Eric Garner who uttered the words “I can’t breathe” eight times before he died while being placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo in July 2014.
Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints over his 19 year career as a police officer with 2 resulting in disciplinary actions. Chauvin has been the subject of several internal complaints as well. George Floyd and fired police officer Derek Chauvin knew each other before the fatal encounter. Chauvin worked outside security at a bar for 17 years while Floyd worked security inside the bar. Floyd grew up in Houston Texas and 13 years ago in 2007 he was charged with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston In 2009 he was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents. In 2014 he moved to Minneapolis looking for work and a new start. Videos he posted on social media while under stay at home orders show him denouncing violence and encouraging his community to find another way.
While the protests started in Minnesota, they quickly spread across the globe. Demonstrators gathered in London, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Syria, Brazil, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand, among other places, to protest against police brutality in solidarity with the US crowds. Demonstrators have gathered in the thousands in many major cities worldwide. Many protestors remain peaceful but their message has been marred by the violence, looting and vandalism taking place in cities across the US.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

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Authorities in Georgia have arrested a third man in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old man who was chased down and shot to death by two men in February. The man, William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, was arrested on charges of felony murder and attempted false imprisonment. He filmed the video showing Arbery jogging down a narrow road in Brunswick, Georgia, in broad daylight, before being ambushed. Retired police officer Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were both arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault earlier this month.
The video Bryan recorded on his cellphone shows Arbery trying to run around the McMichaels’ truck before turning sharply toward Travis McMichael and tussling over his shotgun. Arbery was shot three times and collapsed in the street. The 36-second video was not released until more than 10 weeks after the killing and spurred calls for the McMichaels’ arrests. It does not show what led up to the final moments of Arbery’s life.
Gregory McMichael — a former prosecutorial investigator, ex-Glynn County police officer and Travis’ father — told police that he and his son chased Arbery after seeing him at a neighbor’s under-construction home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in a rash of break-ins, according to an incident report. Surveillance footage from inside the under construction home show Arbery entered the home and was inside for approximately 3 minutes looking around but he did not take anything before leaving to continue his jog.
Bryan is accused of using his vehicle on multiple occasions between about 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. that day to “attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority,” the warrant states. Investigators believe this “underlying felony helped cause the death of Ahmaud Arbery,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said, referring to the charge of attempted false imprisonment. Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough, had said his client committed no crime, was no vigilante and would be the state’s “star witness.” He said his client has no relationship with the McMichaels. Bryan’s name appears in the police report filed the day of the shooting. Gregory McMichael told police that after he and his son Travis attempted and failed to stop Arbery, “Roddy” tried to intercept him, according to the report.
Gough told new outlets last week that Bryan was working in his yard when he saw a person he did not know being chased by a vehicle he recognized from the neighborhood. During an interview, Bryan said he prays for the Arbery family every night and said of the video, “I hope that it, in the end, brings justice to the family and peace to the family.”
The attorneys representing members of the Arbery family said they were relieved. “We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process,” the family’s attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump, and L. Chris Stewart, said. “His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well. I can say Wanda Cooper and Marcus Arbery were very, very relieved to see this arrest finally take place. Not only have we been waiting since the McMichaels were arrested, they have been waiting for three months for all three of these men to be brought into custody,” Merritt said.
Bryan was booked into the Glynn County Jail, where the McMichaels are being held on charges of murder and aggravated assault. The father and son’s legal teams have said the full details of the case haven’t made it into the public arena, and they’ve promised the truth will exonerate their clients.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on US Healthcare Worker Covid Cases Surpass 9,000

US Healthcare Worker Covid Cases Surpass 9,000

 

 

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Dozens of nurses held a protest and vigil outside the White House reading the names of 50 healthcare workers who have died after becoming infected by the coronavirus on the job.  The protest was organized by National Nurses United, which is demanding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require adequate personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,200 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, though the CDC admits the true rate is likely much higher.  CDC data shows that 73% of the health workers falling ill are female and their median age is 42.  US officials also say they have no comprehensive way to count those who lose their lives trying to save others.  A limited CDC infection tally said 27 healthcare worker have died but stressed that the count was drawn from just 16% of the nation’s Covid-19 cases, so the true numbers of healthcare infections and deaths are certainly far higher.

Some states, including Ohio, have reported rates of healthcare worker illness as high as 20% but have not revealed data at the county, city or hospital levels. One health system, Henry Ford in the Detroit area, reported that more than 700 employees tested positive for Covid-19. Yet they have declined to say how many workers died, as in Ohio, to protect patient privacy.  Media reports have shown case after case of healthcare workers across the US saying they do not have adequate protective gear to keep from getting sick.

The New York State Nurses Association filed a lawsuit the New York Department of Health and two hospitals Monday for their failure to provide adequate safety measures at the start of the coronavirus crisis. The lawsuits alleges the failures of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and the two hospitals for not providing sufficient protective equipment, like masks and gowns.  NYSNA executive director Pat Kane said that more than 70% of her nurses reported being exposed to the dangerous disease and that most are still untested.

Media outlets revealed last month that at one of the hospitals named in the suit, a shortage of gowns was so dire that nurses battling the coronavirus pandemic at Mount’s Sinai’s Midtown West hospital resorted to wearing trash bags over their uniforms for protection.  One of there coworkers, a beloved assistant nursing manager, Kious Kelly, died from the coronavirus.  At the time of her death, Mount Sinai insisted there was no shortage of PPE.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chris Matthews Resigns Amid Sexual Harrassment Allegations

Chris Matthews Resigns Amid Sexual Harrassment Allegations

 

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Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews has resigned after a string of recent controversies and accusations of sexual harassment. Chris Matthews’s show, “Hardball,” has been on the air since 1997. Matthews’ departure was “mutually agreed” upon by both Matthews and MSNBC, a network spokesperson said.  A series of interim hosts are expected to fill his role until MSNBC finds a replacement.

 

Journalist Laura Bassett published a piece recounting Matthews’s inappropriate comments to her when she was a guest on his show in 2016.   As she was having her television studio makeup applied, Matthews purportedly asked her: “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” Bassett claims that when she laughed nervously, and said nothing, Matthews followed up to the makeup artist with: “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.” 

 

Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. ‘You going out tonight?’ he asked. I said I didn’t know, and he said—again to the makeup artist—’Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this,'” Bassett also wrote.  “I’m pretty sure that behavior doesn’t rise to the level of illegal sexual harassment,” she added. “But it undermined my ability to do my job well. And after I published a story about it, even though I didn’t name him, dozens of people reached out to say they knew exactly who it was.”

 

In December, 2017, details surfaced of a 1999 settlement Matthews’ employer, CNBC, reached with a female producer of Matthews’ program who alleged Matthews made inappropriate comments about her in front of colleagues in the workplace.  More recently, Matthews compared Bernie Sanders’s primary win in Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France and received backlash for being condescending during an interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren, in which he repeatedly questioned her over claims that fellow presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg and his company have a history of mistreating women. 

 

When announcing his departure, Matthews said “Let me start with my headline tonight: I’m retiring,” the Northeast Philly native said at the start of his show. “This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics. As you can tell I’ve loved every minute of my 20 years as host of ‘Hardball.  “The younger generations are improving the workplace,” he said. “We’re talking here about better standards than we grew up with — fair standards. A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other, compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men — including me — might have once incorrectly thought were okay were never okay. Not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Cases In The US

Coronavirus Cases In The US

 

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The World Health Organization is warning the number of cases of COVID-19 caused by coronavirus is approaching 100,000 worldwide, with more than 3,100 deaths due to the illness. Most of the deaths and infections have occurred in China, where health officials reported 139 new cases and 31 new deaths recently.  

South Korea confirmed 438 new cases, making their total number of confirmed cases over 5,700.  Italy has over 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 100 deaths have been reported. Officials have closed down schools in Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere, with nearly 300 million children kept home from school worldwide. 

In the United States, there are now more than 300 confirmed cases and the death toll has reached 11 — with 10 of the deaths occurring in Washington state. California recorded its first coronavirus death: an elderly man who traveled on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco and traveled to Mexico in February. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the ship quarantined off the coast of California and is airlifting tests for passengers and crew. Governor Newsom made the announcement as he formally declared a state of emergency across California.

The CDC issued new guidance for clinicians on screening patients for novel coronavirus and assessing their risk for infection. The agency also started shipping its coronavirus assay to labs across the U.S. and in other countries.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 states in the US have reported confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. Washington State has the highest number of cases with 70 confirmed illnesses and 10 associated deaths. California has 60 positive cases and 1 death. 

Of the confirmed cases in California, 42 of them are linked to repatriation or international travel. Cases are rising rapidly in New York, where there are 22 confirmed cases across the state with an additional 24 testing results pending, and 122 individuals under investigation.  In response to the rise in cases, the US Senate passed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the outbreak. This came just a day after the bill was approved by the House of Representatives. More than $3 billion is expected to be put into research and development of treatments, vaccines, and testing.

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on 29 Dead in Tai Mass Shooting

29 Dead in Tai Mass Shooting

 

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Residents of the northeastern Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima are grieving after Thailand suffered its worst mass shooting. A soldier went on a 18 hour rampage, killing at least 29 people and injuring scores more.  The gunman began his shooting spree on a military base before taking to the streets, then attacking shoppers at a mall. He was eventually shot and killed after a shootout with Thai forces. The shooter posted videos of the attack on Facebook Live; the videos and his account were later removed.

It was around 3pm Saturday, February 8, when Jakrapanth Thomma, 32, a sergeant and expert marksman in the Thai armed forces, began his rampage. He first shot and killed his commanding officer, Colonel Anantharot Krasae over a real estate deal gone bad.  Then he raided an unprotected weapons bunker at a nearby army base before advancing to Terminal 21 where he began to shoot civilians indiscriminately.

The attack carried on through the night as Thomma went from floor to floor, executing anyone he found hiding in the center.  He then stole a Humvee and wounded the driver. The gunman escaped the base and opened fire on two police officers and two civilians, wounding them. The officers sustained multiple gunshot wounds in their legs and backs.  After escaping, the gunman started shooting in the street: he stopped outside Wat Pa Sattha Ruam, a Buddhist temple and killed eight civilians and a police officer. He then arrived at the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, where he left the vehicle and began shooting indiscriminately at people outside the mall, before detonating a cooking-gas cylinder, killing 12 civilians.

He then entered the mall, killing two people and taking sixteen hostages inside the mall on the fourth floor. The gunman live-streamed on Facebook Live during the siege and shared photos and memes on his profile page, although his account was eventually taken down by Facebook.  Police officers and soldiers stormed the mall and demanded the gunman’s surrender, to which he responded by opening fire, killing two policemen and a soldier and wounding at least three others. He remained inside for several hours, during which his mother was brought by authorities to try to convince him to surrender. Finally, in the early hours of Sunday, authorities dispatched the country’s top team of special forces to clear the complex. After about 18 hours of carnage, Thomma was finally shot dead. 

The prime minister, Mr. Prayuth, who met Sunday with some of the 58 injured victims, said that the gunman had been enraged over a “land problem.” He said it was a conflict that could have been resolved peacefully.  The dispute that preceded the massacre involved the gunman’s superior officer, Col. Anantharot Krasae, and a business operated by the colonel’s family that sold homes and helped soldiers borrow money from a military lending program.  A friend of Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said that the sergeant major had expected to receive about $13,000 in cash back from a loan they had arranged — a significant sum — but the money had disappeared.

According to his friend, he asked repeatedly for the money but did not receive it and had lost hope.  On Saturday, the sergeant major met with Col. Anantharot, Ms. Anong and a property

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Former CEO Sentenced In College Admissions Scandal

Former CEO Sentenced In College Admissions Scandal

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former CEO of an investment firm was sentenced to nine months in prison for bribing his children’s way into elite universities.  It is the longest sentence yet of any parent involved in the college admissions scandal known as “Operation Varsity Blues.” Prosecutors say Douglas Hodge, ex-CEO of Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO, paid $850,000 in bribes to get four of his children into USC and Georgetown University as fake athletic recruits.  Prosecutors had recommended sending Hodge, 62, to prison for two years

A federal judge branded the former head of bond giant Pimco a “common thief” and sentenced him to nine months in prison for his role in the sweeping college admissions cheating scandal.  Douglas Hodge, who had earlier admitted paying $850,000 in bribes to get four of his seven children admitted to elite colleges, also had his request to serve out part of his sentence at home turned down by the judge.

 “I have in my heart the deepest remorse for my actions,” a teary-eyed Hodge told Judge Nathaniel Groton in Boston. “I do not believe that ego or desire for high social standing drove my decision-making. Rather, I was driven by my own transformative educational experiences and my deep parental love.”  In his statement, Hodge also absolved his children, saying they “did nothing to deserve the consequences they have suffered as a result of my actions.” 

Groton was unmoved.  “Mr. Hodge, your conduct in this whole sordid affair is appalling and mind-boggling,” Groton said. “There is no term in the English language that describes your conduct as well as the Yiddish term chutzpah.”  Groton then imposed on Hodge, a Dartmouth and Harvard graduate, charged with money laundering and wire and mail fraud charges, the stiffest punishment among 14 parents who have been sentenced thus far. Groton also denied Hodge’s request to split his sentence with home confinement int the palatial Pacific Coast mansion in Laguna Beach, California.  He also ordered him to pay $750,000 in fines, and perform 500 hours of community service.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Cases Soar

Coronavirus Cases Soar

 

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The death toll from coronavirus continues to soar, now surpassing 1,700 and overtaking the global death toll from the deadly SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. In Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, the first death of a U.S. citizen was recorded last week. The World Health Organization is warning the coronavirus poses a “grave threat” to the world, as there are more than 73,000 confirmed infections worldwide.

New cases were identified on a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, bringing the number of confirmed cases on board to over 500.  Around 3,700 people have been quarantined aboard the ship where crew members say the workers aren’t being protected from infection. Faced with continuing transmissions on the Diamond Princess, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new travel restrictions for the ship’s passengers and crew.

After leaving the ship, on which passengers are scheduled to be released from quarantine Feb. 19, all passengers and crew will be required to wait an additional 14 days before returning to the United States. Should an individual from the cruise arrive in the U.S. earlier than that, they’ll be subject to mandatory quarantine until they’ve gone 14 days without exhibiting symptoms or, conversely, test positive. More than 100 Americans remain either on the ship or hospitalized in Japan.

—The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting COVID-19 is up to 20 times more deadly than the flu, with a fatality rate of about 2.3%.  Doctors in Shanghai have started using the blood plasma from some of the 14,000 patients who have recovered from the disease to treat new patients.  Chinese doctors are also trying antiviral drugs licensed for use against other infections to see if they might help. Scientists are testing two antiviral drugs and preliminary results are due in weeks, while the head of a Wuhan hospital had said plasma infusions from recovered patients had shown some encouraging preliminary results.

 

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on CDC Prepares For Coronavirus Outbreak in US

CDC Prepares For Coronavirus Outbreak in US

 

 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is preparing for the new coronavirus, which has killed at least 1,115 and sickened more than 45,000 worldwide, to “take a foothold in the U.S.”  Health officials have confirmed 13 U.S. cases of the virus, now named COVID-19, short for Corona Virus Disease. They are awaiting test results of 61 additional test subjects. A total of 420 people in the US have been investigated for possible infection with 347 testing negative.  

Since mid January, the CDC has monitored more than 30,000 travelers coming to the U.S. from China. They have not detected any cases from returning travelers. Health officials are asking the travelers to monitor their own symptoms and limit their outdoor activities.  A mistake at a lab led U.S. health officials to release an infected coronavirus patient from a San Diego hospital. The patient had been evacuated from Wuhan. The CDC said there are new measures in place to make sure it does not happen again.

World Health Organization officials have said they are worried about the virus mutating.  The coronavirus produces mild cold symptoms in about 80% of patients. About 15% of the people who contract the virus have ended up with pneumonia, with 3% to 5% of all patients needing intensive care.  

The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, has ordered residents to report their body temperature daily, and the large port city of Tianjin said it would restrict residents’ movement, part of steps across the country to stop the coronavirus outbreak from spreading. The city is conducting door-to-door inspections as well, and will send someone to check on people displaying a fever, according to a notice posted by the provincial government. People with symptoms will be sent to a community health center for evaluation.

In Beijing, the Chinese government voiced anger as countries placed more restrictions on travelers.  More than 50 countries or territories have imposed travel restrictions and tightened visa requirements to contain the spread of coronavirus, according to the International Air Transport Association.  The U.S. government has continued to charter evacuation flights for US Nationals departing Wuhan, China.  All evacuees spend a mandatory two weeks under quarantine while they’re monitored for symptoms of the flu-like virus. 

A cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, is still under quarantine after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.  The ship, which is currently off Japan’s coast, now has 174 confirmed cases of coronavirus as the virus spreads. There are more than 3,700 passengers and crew on the ship under quarantine.  

 

 

 

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