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The Wisconsin state Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, ruling that the Democratic governor does not have authority to act without input from the legislature, even during a public health crisis. The 4-to-3 decision was written by four conservative judges on the court.

More than 295,000 people have died worldwide from covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and around 83,000 of those have been reported in the United States. The number of confirmed cases in the United States is nearly 1.4 million.

Here are some significant developments:

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May 13, 2020 at 11:31 PM EDT

Los Angeles residents will be required to wear face masks outside of homes

Los Angeles residents will be required to wear face masks whenever they are outside their homes, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said Wednesday.

“And as long as you’re not doing a solitary activity or with your own household, put that mask on,” he said at a news conference. “Always now.”

Only small children and some people with disabilities will be exempted from the rule. The city had previously required that people wear masks only in certain situations: shopping at grocery stores, sitting in taxis, buses or ride-share vehicles, and at the airport.

But as stay-at-home orders are being relaxed and more locations — including retail shops, hiking trails and tennis courts — are reopening, the order is meant to step up efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

By Teo Armus
May 13, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT

To save their neighborhood small businesses, people are rebelling against delivery apps

SAN FRANCISCO — Every morning Turtle Brennen, a research engineer who lives here in the Mission District, buys a coffee from Ritual Roasters, a locally based coffee chain. Since the stay-at-home order, he’s also been getting a pastry so he can support the bakeries it works with. He calls restaurants and picks up his food directly, and he still buys books from Borderlands — the same local bookstore he’s been visiting regularly for more than 20 years.

“It is incredibly difficult not to go to Amazon when you need to buy something kind of esoteric,” Brennen said. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to search out alternatives.”

His efforts are being reflected across the Bay Area, as consumers grapple with a pandemic that is heightening an already complicated relationship with the technology industry. To help local businesses, many of which are on the edge of going under, some people here are going out of their way to call restaurants instead of using fee-charging delivery apps. They’re hiring gig workers directly, finding local businesses selling things they usually get on Amazon and cutting out the tech middlemen whenever possible. The Bay Area is home to many of the very start-ups they’re trying to circumvent, including Uber, DoorDash and Instacart, which have created new ways to order and deliver food and goods.

Read more here.

By Heather Kelly
May 13, 2020 at 10:59 PM EDT

Los Angeles streets will temporarily close to allow people to social distance

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that residents and neighborhood councils will be able to apply to close local streets to traffic so pedestrians have more space.

A website for the Slow Streets program will allow people to apply for closures beginning this weekend “to give people a little bit more room to do what we’re all doing, walking in the neighborhood, running, biking,” Garcetti said at a news conference.

The program is similar to ones enacted by Oakland, Milan and Seattle. In the latter city, the program was expanded, and 20 miles of streets have been permanently closed.

During the news conference, Garcetti also emphasized that the county’s shutdown orders would not last another three months, as county health director Barbara Ferrer said at a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday before seeking to clarify.

“No, we won’t be shut down for three more months,” Garcetti said. “That’s not what I heard, that’s not what I expect, that’s not what I hope.”

By Meryl Kornfield
May 13, 2020 at 10:25 PM EDT

Experiment shows human speech generates droplets that linger in the air for more than 8 minutes

Ordinary speech can emit small respiratory droplets that linger in the air for at least eight minutes and potentially much longer, according to a study published Wednesday that could help explain why infections of the coronavirus so often cluster in nursing homes, households, conferences, cruise ships and other confined spaces with limited air circulation.

The report, from researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the University of Pennsylvania, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal. It is based on an experiment that used laser light to study the number of small respiratory droplets emitted through human speech.

The answer: a lot.

Read more here.

By Joel Achenbach
May 13, 2020 at 10:09 PM EDT

Milwaukee, Madison keep stay-at-home orders in place after Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down governor’s order

Major cities in Wisconsin are choosing to keep local stay-at-home orders in place after the state Supreme Court struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, ruling that Evers does not have authority to act without input from the Legislature, even during a public health crisis.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) announced Wednesday that the city’s stay-at-home order remains in effect, meaning bars and restaurants are still barred from reopening.

“The City of Milwaukee Health Department issued a public health order on March 25, 2020, to protect public health and reduce the spread of Covid-19,” Barrett said in a statement. “That order remains in effect, including all provisions on public gatherings, restaurants, and bar operations.”

In Madison and Dane County, health officials announced Wednesday night that they are implementing their own order, which incorporates most parts of the extended stay-at-home order. According to a news release from Public Health Madison and Dane County, local authorities determined it was “critical to continue following Safer at Home right now to keep Dane County residents healthy and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.”

Elsewhere, business is set to return. The trade association Tavern League of Wisconsin tweeted that Wisconsin bars can “open immediately” after the Supreme Court blocked the stay-at-home order.

In a Marquette Law School poll released Tuesday, 69 percent of respondents said Evers’s stay-at-home order is the appropriate response to the coronavirus, while 26 percent said it is an overreaction. Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March that closed schools and nonessential businesses.

By Samantha Pell
May 13, 2020 at 10:01 PM EDT

At least 16 states now reporting cases of rare illness in children with covid-19

At least 16 states are now reporting cases of children contracting a severe inflammatory illness that could be linked to the coronavirus.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), speaking at his daily news conference on Wednesday, said he and several other state governors are investigating these cases as New York has identified more than 100 children — who may have contracted covid-19 — showing symptoms of the inflammatory disease similar to Kawasaki disease, a relatively rare condition that affects blood vessels.

Doctors typically see Kawasaki disease in children only, and its causes remain unknown.

While statistics continue to show most children who contract the virus do not face serious harm, health-care providers across the country have recently noticed a possible link between the virus and Kawasaki disease. The connection is not confirmed, though a study published Wednesday in the journal Lancet bolstered the idea.

The other states with reported cases are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington. There also have been cases reported in Washington, D.C., and five European countries.

Oregon is the latest to be added to the list on Wednesday, local news stations reported, after it saw its first confirmed case of the syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease in a girl confirmed to have covid-19.

Cuomo on Wednesday called New York “in many ways the tip of the arrow here.”

“[We are] looking at 102 cases where children who may have been infected with the COVID virus show symptoms of an inflammatory disease like Kawasaki disease, or toxic shocklike syndrome,” he said.

According to Cuomo, 60 percent of the patients have tested positive for covid-19, and 40 percent tested positive for its antibodies.

By Samantha Pell
May 13, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT

Another Colorado restaurant opens, but not out of defiance of coronavirus regulations, out of desperation

GREELEY, Colo. — Kelley Chagolla, co-owner of the Charro Mexican Restaurant here in the conservative enclave of Weld County, decided to open her restaurant to diners this week, going directly against the governor’s order to limit service to delivery and curbside. She watched the debacle in Castle Rock closely — where a restaurant opened to packed crowds, drew national attention, and then was shut down and fined — and definitely did not want to go that route.

But she opened anyway, joining a growing group of businesses across the nation that are defying government orders amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could get worse if people begin to crowd together again at restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons — all the trappings of a normal American life.

“It wasn’t a political statement,” Chagolla said Tuesday night, standing on the patio of the Charro. “It was more of a necessity.”

Read more here.

By Robert Klemko and Anne Gearan
May 13, 2020 at 9:06 PM EDT

Cats can become infected with coronavirus and pass it on to other cats, researchers say

Cats can become infected by the novel coronavirus and transmit it to other cats, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors recommend that people with coronavirus symptoms avoid cats and that cat owners keep their pets indoors.

A team of American and Japanese researchers administered the coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19 in humans, to three cats, according to the study. The next day, they swabbed the cats’ nasal passages and detected the virus in two cats. Within three days, they detected the virus in all three.

To further test if they could pass on the virus, researchers put another cat in each of the inoculated cats’ cages. Six days later, swab samples taken from six cats’ noses tested positive for the virus.

The cats didn’t become symptomatic, and the virus eventually cleared in all of them, the researchers wrote.

It has previously been reported that cats can contract the virus, but the research provides greater insight into animals’ ability to transmit the virus.

In April, two pet cats in New York tested positive for the virus. Those cats, which live in different parts of the state, both showed symptoms of mild respiratory illness. Nadia, a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, was the first confirmed coronavirus case in a U.S. animal. Four tigers and three lions at the zoo were also confirmed to have the virus.

There’s no evidence that animals transmit the virus to humans or have played a role in its spread, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said.

By Meryl Kornfield
May 13, 2020 at 8:49 PM EDT

Starbucks asks landlords for a year’s worth of rent concessions

In a letter to corporate landlords, Starbucks said it “will require” rent breaks for at least a year in the wake of its stores’ closures from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seattle-based coffee giant is asking for adjustments to lease terms and base rent for 12 months effective June 1, the company’s chief operating officer, Roz Brewer, wrote in a form letter, which was obtained by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and several news outlets.

“Starbucks will require concessions to support modified operations and structure, so we can withstand this uncertainty together,” Brewer wrote. The letter is dated May 5, a day after Starbucks announced that 85 percent of its 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores would reopen by the end of that week. The company temporarily shuttered half of its stores in late March.

“None of us know the full extent of the challenges ahead, but it’s clear the value of commercial real estate has changed,” Brewer wrote. “We understand what we ask of you may not be easy, and our commitment is to be fair in our discussions.”

“We look toward the future with realistic optimism and expect, as you have in the past, your support in the enduring success of the Starbucks brand,” she added.

Given the scale of the company, the ask will have ripple effects, especially as landlords negotiate with other tenants and may have bankers to pay.

When asked about the letter, a company spokeswoman referred The Post and other outlets to the company’s recent earnings call in which CFO Patrick Grismer said the company was having “ongoing conversations” with landlords regarding “commercially reasonable lease concessions in the current environment.”

By Meryl Kornfield
May 13, 2020 at 8:26 PM EDT

U.S. Embassy warns of ‘exponential growth’ and ‘overwhelmed hospitals’ in Tanzania

The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania issued a warning Wednesday that the East African country was experiencing “exponential growth” of coronavirus cases, despite the government’s decision not to report new cases since April 29.

“The risk of contracting covid-19 in Dar es Salaam is extremely high,” the embassy warned about Tanzania’s capital. “Despite limited official reports, all evidence points to exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar and other locations in Tanzania.”

The statement also cautioned that “many hospitals in Dar es Salaam have been overwhelmed in recent weeks,” while “limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for medical care.”

The embassy’s statement did not provide any evidence or alternative case and death counts. In recent weeks videos of night burials in Tanzania have circulated on social media, fueling speculation of a hidden epidemic.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, however, has rejected criticism of his handling of the country’s outbreak and urged people to attend church services, insisting prayers will “vanquish” the virus, the BBC reported. The last official figures released by the government recorded 509 cases and 21 deaths.

Washington issued a Level 4 travel advisory at the end of March, in which the State Department urged all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel and, if already abroad, to return home or expect to remain away indefinitely.

By Miriam Berger
May 13, 2020 at 8:06 PM EDT

Trump poised to name leaders of vaccine effort

President Trump has selected the former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline and an Army four-star general to run a White House-led drive to try to swiftly develop and manufacture a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Moncef Slaoui, former vaccines chairman for the British-based pharmaceuticals company, will become chief adviser of what the White House has dubbed Operation Warp Speed, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about a decision that has not been announced. Slaoui will step down from positions on company boards when he assumes the new post, the administration official said.

Slaoui serves on the board of the Massachusetts biotech company, Moderna, which is developing a vaccine candidate in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and received $483 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a federal agency. Slaoui was paid $490,000 in 2019, according to a company filing.

The chief operating officer of the vaccine initiative will be Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the commanding general of the Army’s Materiel Command, the official said.

Trump plans to announce his choices “imminently,” the official said. The appointments were first reported by Bloomberg News.

At the end of April, the White House announced the “Warp Speed” initiative, combining the work of government agencies, private companies and the military, with the goal of having hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine effective against the coronavirus by January.

By Amy Goldstein and Carolyn Y. Johnson
May 13, 2020 at 7:53 PM EDT

Abbott coronavirus test missed a large number of positive results caught by a rival company, preliminary study says

The Abbott Laboratories coronavirus test hailed by President Trump and used by the White House failed to detect infected samples in a large number of cases that were caught by a rival company, a preliminary study says.

The speedy Abbott test, which is supposed to determine in five to 13 minutes whether a person has the virus, missed a third of the positive samples found by the diagnostic company Cepheid when both tests used nasopharyngeal swabs, said the study done by a group from New York University. It missed more than 48 percent when both firms’ tests used dry nasal swabs. The former penetrates deeply into the nasal passages, while the latter is less invasive.

The study, while preliminary and not yet peer-reviewed, raised questions about a test that has been praised by Trump, who displayed it at a Rose Garden news conference on April 2 and said it created “a whole new ballgame.”

Read more here.

By Carolyn Y. Johnson and Steven Mufson
May 13, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT

New Mexico mandates face masks in public places, indoor and outdoor

Face masks will be required in all public settings — indoor and outdoor — in New Mexico starting Saturday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced at a Wednesday news conference.

The only exceptions to the rules are for eating, drinking and exercising. Grisham said children are not excluded from the public health order.

As of Wednesday, New Mexico has reported 5,364 coronavirus cases and 231 fatalities.

“You are looking to cover your nose and your mouth. Anything will do,” Grisham said.

While the state’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect, Grisham also said that starting Saturday, retail, offices and call centers are allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Large retailers are allowed to reopen at 20 percent and houses of worship at 10 percent capacity.

Other states have required masks in public places, though New Mexico’s rules are especially stringent. Connecticut and New York’s mask requirements apply to anyone who is in a public place and can’t maintain at least six feet of distance from other people. Other states, such as Maryland and New Jersey, have mandated the wearing of face coverings on public transit.

While federal health authorities recommend covering one’s face in public settings where social distancing is difficult, mask mandates have encountered resistance in some cities and states.

By Samantha Pell
May 13, 2020 at 7:17 PM EDT

Texas engineer charged with fraudulently seeking $13 million from PPP

An engineer in Texas has been charged with fraudulently filing applications seeking more than $10 million in forgivable government loans meant for small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, federal investigators announced Wednesday.

Shashank Rai of Beaumont, Tex., claimed to have 250 employees when he actually had none, officials said. The 30-year-old man is now charged in the Eastern District of Texas with wire and bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the Small Business Administration.

Rai allegedly made two fraudulent claims to two different lenders for loans guaranteed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a Justice Department news release states. He sought $10 million in the first claim and about $3 million in the second, prosecutors say.

“The behavior in this case was very brazen,” U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown of the Eastern District of Texas said in a statement. “Those who submit these applications for loans or other assistance need to understand that there are people checking on the representations made, and those representations are made under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury.”

Brown added: “Federal agencies are watching for fraud, and people who lie and try to cheat the system are going to be caught and prosecuted.”

By Samantha Pell