with Mariana Alfaro
More than 2 million Australians quickly downloaded a coronavirus contact tracing app released Sunday by their government. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he would be able to ease some lockdown restrictions if enough people sign up, because public health officials could more rapidly identify, isolate, test and treat people who have been exposed to the contagion. Experts say that at least 40 percent of the country’s 25 million citizens need to participate for the initiative to be effective.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled overnight that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government cannot continue to use the state security service to track the cellphones of covid-19 patients beyond the end of April unless the Knesset, their parliament, passes legislation to codify the emergency program.
The dual developments on the other side of the world put in stark relief just how far behind the eight ball the U.S. government continues to be on contact tracing, which experts agree is critical not just to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus but also to safely reopening the economy.
As other developed countries grapple with the implications for civil liberties of voluntary apps like Australia’s and more invasive approaches like Israel’s, the web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remains a work in progress. “Detailed guidance for health departments and potential contact tracers is forthcoming,” the CDC page still said at 10 a.m.
Australia’s national app, called COVIDSafe, uses Bluetooth technology to log every time a user comes within about five feet of someone else. If someone using the app tests positive, everyone else who has the app and had more than 15 minutes of close contact with that person will be notified. “The encrypted data recorded by the app will only be made available to health officials when someone tests positive for covid-19, and the Australian government says that it will be deleted once the pandemic is over. But privacy advocates have asked for more safeguards, including legislation that explicitly states that the data cannot be used by law enforcement,” Antonia Farzan reports.
Australia’s app is modeled off the one already widely adopted in Singapore. The United Arab Emirates has also used Bluetooth to record interactions and to identify suspected cases. At least 29 countries are now using mobile data to help with contact tracing. A key part of South Korea’s success at flattening the curve was that the government used cellphone location data to reconstruct the movements of infected people so that others could be alerted that they may have been exposed, which reduced the rate of transmission.
The United States has 54,400 people who have died from the coronavirus, more confirmed fatalities than any other country, with at least 961,000 confirmed cases. The world has lost more than 206,000 people to the pandemic, and about 3 million cases have been reported.
With the lack of a cohesive federal strategy on testing or tracing, America is relying on a patchwork approach with companies and states racing to fill the void. Apple and Google are jointly developing a Bluetooth system that could be deployed nationally and allow owners of smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, to know whether they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease.
“North Dakota repurposed an app used by North Dakota State University sports fans to stay in touch and check in at locations on their way to out-of-state football games to work as a voluntary contact tracing app. The app was built by a Microsoft engineer and NDSU graduate Tim Brookins, whose company ProudCrowd gave it to the state for free,” Joe Marks reports in today’s Cyber 202. “Utah entered into a $2.75 million contract with the app company Twenty to build a voluntary coronavirus tracking tool. Officials in Hawaii discussed using GPS trackers to ensure tourists on the islands are following quarantine restrictions. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), meanwhile, is urging residents to use an app designed by researchers at Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions to self-report their locations, symptoms and whether they’re diagnosed with the virus — but that doesn’t track their movements.”
The CDC announced Thursday that it will send $631 million to state and local health departments to increase their capacity to do contact tracing and testing, but that’s “a fraction of what many officials say they need to safely restart their economies,” William Wan reports.
The Financial Times reports that companies like PwC, the consulting firm, are preparing to launch apps that track employees as they move through offices and factories. “But, unlike the voluntary apps being launched by U.S. states and several Western governments, some of the corporate tracking apps probably will be mandatory. And they could include far fewer privacy protections. The moves underscore how privacy and security concerns are taking a back seat amid efforts to combat the pandemic,” Joe notes.
The Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, embroiled in a lawsuit with Facebook over allegations that it helped foreign governments hack into the WhatsApp accounts of dissidents and journalists, is developing a coronavirus tracking app and marketing it to U.S. clients, NBC News reports.
In Israel, the civil liberties group that brought the legal challenge against the government surveillance program said the Supreme Court’s ruling could help rein in a tracing initiative that they argue is ripe for abuse. “The health of the public is of utmost importance, but these measures, born out of draconian emergency regulations, are bringing us to a slippery slope when it comes to the invasion of privacy and democracy,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said in a statement.
“There has been little public outcry over the program, which allows the security agency, Shin Bet, to review the cellphone movements people who test positive for the virus and alert others who may have been near them. Hundreds of Israelis have received messages that they had been in proximity of an infected person and ordering them into two weeks of isolation,” Steve Hendrix writes from Jerusalem. “The high court’s ruling doesn’t end the program but stipulates that it must be codified in law. The decision comes as Israel, where the outbreak has been largely contained to date, is beginning to lift some restrictions on movement and business activities. Street side shops across the country were allowed to reopen Sunday and officials were considering restarting some early grade school classes on a limited basis as early as the first week of May.”
In contrast to these other countries, the United States has relied mainly on collected sets of anonymous user data, provided voluntarily by companies. “New Zealand, Taiwan and Thailand have used phone-location tracking to monitor quarantined people’s movements, and issue heavy fines to people found to have violated the orders. In China, Poland and Russia, health officials have used facial-recognition software to confirm whether someone has obeyed lockdown orders,” Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Drew Harwell and Tony Romm report. “When California officials wanted to see how closely people were following social distancing guidelines last month, they tapped a powerful new data set — a map that Facebook provided to state authorities derived from the location coordinates of tens of millions of smartphones. The map showed with alarming clarity that large numbers of people were still gathering on beaches and in public parks. Soon after, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered them closed to vehicles, sharply restricting access.”
Skepticism of government surveillance is built into Americans' DNA. A Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this month found that 6 in 10 Americans say that it would not make much of a difference in limiting the spread of the virus if the government tracked people’s locations through their cellphone. Only 16 percent believed this would help a lot, and 22 percent said they think it would help a little to limit the spread.
Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently that collecting cellphone data would be helpful and “makes sense” from “a purely public health standpoint.” But that creates “sticky, sticky issues," he added. “You know, you could look at somebody’s cellphone, and say, ‘You were next to these 25 people over the last 24 hours,’” Fauci said in an interview with Snapchat. “Boy, I’ve got to tell you, the civil liberties-type pushback on that would be considerable.”
The federal response
The White House is finalizing expanded guidelines to allow for a phased reopening of society.
The draft plans include the reopening of “schools and camps, child-care programs, certain workplaces, houses of worship, restaurants and mass transit, according to documents under review by administration officials,” Lena Sun and Josh Dawsey report. “The guidelines have sparked sharp debates within the administration between public health experts and other officials who fear that the guidelines could restrict worship services, damage the profitability of restaurants and upend daily life in a way they deem unnecessary. … While sharing menus, passing the offering plate and crowding members of a choir together raise the risk for transmission, some officials said the guidelines are likely to be controversial. ‘Churches don’t like to be told how to operate,’ said one administration official … Initial guidelines provided few specifics. The guidance under review, drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considerably more detailed. Changes could be made, but the guidance is likely to be released within the next seven days, officials said. The 17-page guidance lists recommendations for each of six settings. It says all decisions should be made locally in collaboration with local health officials. … [It also says] the CDC ‘offers these suggestions that faith communities may consider and accept or reject, consistent with their own faith tradition.’”
Debbie Birx warned that social distancing will probably remain in place through the summer.
“It was the latest instance of conflicting signals coming not just from state and federal leaders but also from within the Trump administration in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that so far has claimed the lives of more than 54,000 Americans. Last week, Vice President Pence predicted that ‘we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us’ by Memorial Day weekend,'" Felicia Sonmez, Paige Winfield Cunningham and Meryl Kornfield report. “But on Sunday, [the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator] said in an interview on NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press’ that ‘social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases.’ She cited the need for further testing that would need to be developed following a scientific ‘breakthrough.’ … Across the country, however, some states are already relaxing their social distancing restrictions over pressure from protesters, business groups and others.”
The president fills briefings with attacks and boasts, but little empathy.
“Trump has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 briefings held since March 16, eating up 60 percent of the time that officials spoke,” Philip Bump and Ashley Parker report. “Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. He spent twice as much time promoting an unproven antimalarial drug that was the object of a Food and Drug Administration warning Friday. Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions. …
“Trump’s freewheeling approach ended in a political crisis this past week, after the president’s dangerous suggestion at a briefing Thursday that injecting bleach or other disinfectants might cure the coronavirus — ‘almost as a cleaning.’ The remarks set off a government-wide scramble and led to Trump telling aides Friday he would skip briefings this weekend. White House officials say privately they are considering scaling back the events entirely. … In recent days, aides have begun discussing adding an economic component to the virus response that would be separate from the daily briefing with public health officials, in part because they say one of the president’s strengths is the economy. … Advisers are also considering cutting the number of briefings or having the president attend less frequently, as well as discussing getting the president out on the road in the next few weeks.”
A flood of business bankruptcies will probably come in the next months.
“Business filings under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law rose sharply in March, and attorneys who work with struggling companies are seeing signs that more owners are contemplating the possibility of bankruptcy,” the AP reports. “Business owners will try to avoid bankruptcy by seeking leniency from landlords, lenders and vendors, bankruptcy attorney David Wander says. But with their companies’ financial troubles beyond their control because of the virus outbreak, many will file for Chapter 11 because the stigma that bankruptcy has long held will be gone, says Wander, a partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron in New York. ‘The tsunami is going to happen in the coming months and it’s going to be ongoing,’ Wander says.”
- More than 200 public companies applied for at least $854 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, a higher tally than previously reported. Only 11 of these companies have returned a total of $75 million to the program, amid pressure. (CNBC)
- The U.S. is going to see a jobless rate comparable to the Great Depression as it recovers from the pandemic, said Trump economic adviser Kevin Hassett. The unemployment rate peaked at about 25 percent during the Great Depression. (ABC News)
- People receiving stimulus checks are also getting a letter signed by Trump. The president thanks Congress for working with him to pass relief measures, “which I proudly signed into law.” (CNN)
- “I think that the campaign platform that President Trump ran on in 2016, which was basically you have to secure your borders, and you have to control your own manufacturing as a national security issue, I think those have been totally vindicated positions from the virus,” said White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner in an interview with Fox News. “And I doubt that it will be easy for people to argue against them in the future."
Trump called reports that he might fire Alex Azar “fake news.”
“The Post, along with other news outlets, reported early Sunday that White House officials are discussing possible replacements for [the Health and Human Services secretary] as frustrations have grown over his handling of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, and the uproar that followed his removal of a top vaccine official in his agency last week,” Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey report. “ ‘Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be ‘fired’ by me are Fake News,’ [Trump] tweeted … During the past several weeks, Azar has rarely appeared at the daily White House coronavirus news briefings and has been largely sidelined from the response. … One senior administration official with knowledge of the discussions said Trump has no deep affection for Azar but is unlikely to change secretaries as the coronavirus continues to rage. There is also concern about having a nomination fight in an election year on an issue — health care — that many Trump advisers see as a political weakness.”
Quote of the day
Democrats continued to hammer Trump for his remarks about disinfectants as a possible cure for the virus. “You know what they call that? They call that embalming,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s the medical term.”
The domestic damage
The situation in the D.C. region shows how the contagion has disproportionately affected African Americans.
“The intensive care unit at Inova Alexandria Hospital has empty beds, and doctors are prepared for a rush of coronavirus patients that has yet to hit the largely white suburb. A dozen miles away at Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Hospital Center, the ICU is full, and employees treat coronavirus patients in medical tents in the parking lot. Paramedics across Prince George’s County are summoned daily to help people struggling to breathe, and funeral home directors are searching for more places to store bodies,” Rachel Chason, Ovetta Wiggins and John Harden report. “Prince George’s, one of the nation’s wealthiest majority-black counties, has reported the most coronavirus infections and some of the highest death tolls in the Washington region. In the hardest-hit neighborhoods, African American and Latino residents make up more than 70 percent of households. The grim statistics mirror data showing black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be infected with the novel coronavirus and more likely to die of it.
“Officials say the pandemic has hit the county of 900,000 especially hard because many residents are front-line workers exposed daily to the virus, and Prince Georgians disproportionately suffer from underlying health conditions that make the virus more deadly. ‘His comment to me was, ‘I am the only pharmacist,’’ said Bowie resident Nicole Boynes, whose husband, Sean, had asthma but kept working at a pharmacy he helped found in Greenbelt. Sean Boynes, a former Air Force captain, died of covid-19, the disease the virus causes, on April 2. He was 46. Nearly 14 percent of adults in Prince George’s have diabetes, according to county health statistics, 36 percent are obese, and 64 percent of the county’s Medicare beneficiaries suffer from hypertension — rates above national and statewide averages. There are fewer hospital beds and primary care doctors than in neighboring jurisdictions, which means residents are less likely to treat medical problems early. The county also spends less on public health efforts than its wealthier neighbors. … The 174 county residents who had died of covid-19 as of Sunday … include educators, a maintenance worker, a prominent artist and a pastor."
- “The District, Maryland and Virginia reported 53 new covid-19 fatalities Sunday, bringing the region’s death toll to 1,549,” Hannah Natanson, Erin Cox and Justin Jouvenal report. “The overall number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the District, Maryland and Virginia grew by roughly 1,500, to 35,436 cases. … On Saturday, Maryland reported 76 new deaths, its largest single-day jump.”
As Georgia reopens, many of its poor black residents in rural areas cannot even get tested.
“Sheryl Means already has lost so much to the invisible virus burning through her hometown. Her mother and her aunt died within days of each other. She has this tightness in her chest, and she’s scared she might be next. But Means can’t get a test. Even now, six weeks into a national emergency, with the death toll still climbing in southwest Georgia, and her kin sick from the novel coronavirus. Even though, as a home health-care worker, she’s at high risk for exposure. She isn’t displaying enough symptoms to get the required doctor’s referral. If she wanted, though, she could get her hair and nails done, since the state’s governor invited some businesses to reopen Friday, despite local leaders, public health experts and residents like Means insisting Georgia isn’t ready," Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran and Vanessa Williams report. “Of the 20 counties in the nation with the most deaths per capita from covid-19, … five are in southwest Georgia, including Early, where Means lives. In the state’s hardest-hit places, African Americans make up most of the population, and about 30 percent of residents live in poverty. They’ve struggled for years with a severe lack of access to health care. Some counties have no doctors, no hospitals and a high percentage of uninsured residents. The facilities and physicians already were stretched thin. Then came the coronavirus."
- In the Texas Panhandle, about 3,000 meatpacking workers – most of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America and refugees from Asia and Africa – still report to work every day to a JBS Beef plant that has been tied to at least 159 infections. Workers say they have little power to change that. (Texas Tribune)
- In Detroit, Ford plans to recall a skeleton crew of worker to start preparing its factories for reopening, even as UAW members express anxiety about their safety. (Free Press)
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he’s not ready to reopen theaters or sporting venues yet. “That’s just not going to happen in May,” he said. “You’re much better off going outdoors.” (Miami Herald)
In the overwhelmingly black South Bronx, life is now just waiting, and waiting, for anything and everything.
“The sun had barely risen over East 149th Street in the South Bronx when Edward Halls, 70, got in line. He had seen how long the line was the day before and realized that life now required a plan,” Stephanie McCrummen reports. “A line of 32 people stretched out from the front door of the bank where the computers were still down and Halls was still sitting in his folding chair, watching his neighborhood come to life. Across the street, a line was forming at the pharmacy. A few doors down, the line was growing at the credit union. Around the corner, people were lining up for the bus, for the lottery, for the check-cashers … Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, this is what life was becoming in one of the poorest and hardest-hit neighborhoods in America. A life of lines."
- The inequities of New York City’s health-care system were made clear as University Hospital of Brooklyn, a public hospital, struggled with leaky roofs and poor infrastructure while the wealthy, private Mount Sinai health system enlisted private planes from Warren Buffett’s company to fly N95 masks in from China. (NYT)
- Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed his wife as head of the city’s task force on racial inclusion and equity. (New York Post)
Seattle’s leaders let scientists take the lead. New York’s did not. It made a huge difference.
“The C.D.C.’s Field Epidemiology Manual, which devotes an entire chapter to communication during a health emergency, indicates that there should be a lead spokesperson whom the public gets to know—familiarity breeds trust,” the New Yorker reports. “The spokesperson should make special efforts to explain both what is known and what is unknown. Transparency is essential, the field manual says, and officials must ‘not over-reassure or overpromise.’ The lead spokesperson should be a scientist. Dr. Richard Besser, a former acting C.D.C. director and an [Epidemic Intelligence Service] alumnus, explained to me, ‘If you have a politician on the stage, there’s a very real risk that half the nation is going to do the opposite of what they say.’ During the H1N1 outbreak of 2009, … Besser and his successor at the C.D.C., Dr. Tom Frieden, gave more than a hundred press briefings. President Barack Obama spoke publicly about the outbreak only a few times … At no time did Obama recommend particular medical treatments, nor did he forecast specifics about when the pandemic would end.”
When Jeff Duchin, the top public-health physician for Seattle and King County, told county executive Dow Constantine about a cluster of cases at the Life Care nursing home, they started considering restrictions on public gatherings and stay-at-home orders: “On February 29th, Constantine held a press conference. He had asked [three medical experts] to play prominent roles. Duchin spoke first, and it was as if he had prepared his remarks with the Field Epidemiology Manual in hand. … Since then, Washington State politicians have largely ceded health communications to the scientists, making them unlikely celebrities. … Today, Washington State has less than two per cent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. At EvergreenHealth, hospital administrators have stopped daily crisis meetings, because the rate of incoming patients has slowed. They have empty beds and extra ventilators. The administrators remain worried, but are cautiously optimistic.”
The initial outbreaks in New York City emerged at roughly the same time as Seattle’s, but New York politicians took the lead and the death toll has been vastly higher: "New York is denser than Seattle and relies more heavily on public transportation, which forces commuters into close contact. … New Yorkers are in your face, whether you like it or not. … New York also has more poverty and inequality than Seattle, and more international travellers. … It’s also true, however, that the cities’ leaders acted and communicated very differently in the early stages of the pandemic. Seattle’s leaders moved fast to persuade people to stay home and follow the scientists’ advice; New York’s leaders, despite having a highly esteemed public-health department, moved more slowly, offered more muddied messages, and let politicians’ voices dominate.”
A few faces of the fallen:
- Jonathan Coelho, a Connecticut dad of two, died from the virus after leaving a heart-wrenching note in his phone to his family. “I love you guys with all my heart and you’ve given me the best life I could have ever asked for,” Coelho, 32, wrote to his family, according to his wife, Katie. (NBC News)
- The death at 53 of Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc, a nurse at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, inspired a group of other hospital workers to demand tests for everyone who arrives at the hospital, plus more protective equipment for staff. (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Douglas Burger, described as a “hero dad” to three, died from the virus five days after being admitted to a hospital in Connecticut. He was 55. (Patch)
The foreign fallout
The pandemic has unleashed its own kind of corruption around the world.
“As governments race to source everything from food aid to face masks, they are prioritizing speed over transparency, dropping competitive bidding and other safeguards to keep pace with the pandemic. Most have no choice. Given the speed of the still-unfolding crisis, it’s either buy quickly or put millions at risk. But concern is rising about the percentage of the taxpayer dollars — and euros and yen and pesos and more — lining the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats, crony contractors and crime syndicates,” Anthony Faiola and Vanessa Herrero report. “Food aid for struggling workers locked out of their jobs is proving to be a particularly juicy target. When the government of Bangladesh launched an effort this month to distribute rice to its most vulnerable citizens, nearly 600,000 pounds disappeared. About 50 people, including bureaucrats and local officials, were accused of trying to resell the rice at higher prices. … In Romania, where normal bidding processes have been suspended to accelerate procurement, critics are raising red flags about backdoor deals. … In some instances, corruption-busting regulations are flagging suspect deals. In Buenos Aires, the city government must make public procurement contracts available in searchable form online, even during the coronavirus crisis.”
The virus’s global death told may be almost 60 percent higher than reported in official counts.
A Financial Times analysis of overall fatalities during the pandemic across 14 countries showed “122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods. If the same level of under-reporting observed in these countries was happening worldwide, the global Covid-19 death toll would rise from the current official total of 201,000 to as high as 318,000.”
Kim Jong Un’s train was spotted at a coastal resort.
“U.S. and South Korean intelligence services remain skeptical of reports that Kim is dead or gravely ill, according to three government officials familiar with the matter,” Simon Denyer, John Hudson and Min Joo Kim report. “Commercial satellite images published by the 38 North website, affiliated with the Stimson Center, showed what appeared to be Kim’s 250-meter-long personal train at a railway station dedicated to the Kim family in Wonsan on April 21 and 23. … ‘The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,’ Martyn Williams, Peter Makowsky and Jenny Town wrote in their report. To be sure, something strange is going down in the intensely secretive state. … If Kim were gravely ill, it’s unlikely he would have left the hospital and traveled by train to Wonsan, a distance of over 150 miles. And if he had died and officials wanted to maintain secrecy, it’s unlikely his body would have been transported across the country.”
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work after recovering from the coronavirus and, in his first speech, asked businesses to “contain” their impatience on easing restrictions: “We must also recognise the risk of a second spike and letting the reproduction rate go back over one," he said. "That would not only be a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster and we would be forced once again to slam on the brakes across the whole country and whole economy and reimpose restrictions.” (The Guardian)
- New Zealand is preparing to end its lockdown, as top officials say the virus has been eliminated. While new cases are still being diagnosed, authorities know where each of them is coming from, according to the country’s director general of health. For eight days in a row, the number of new cases has been in the single digits, and only 19 deaths have been reported in a country of 5 million. (Antonia Farzan)
- As France begins to ease its strict lockdown, preparations to resume construction work at the Notre Dame Cathedral have begun. (Rick Noack)
- Saudi Arabia announced a $250 million deal with China to boost its testing capabilities. (Paul Schemm)
- A group of 25 Dutch teens stranded in the Caribbean with no options for air travel sailed across the Atlantic in a 200-foot schooner. The students, who were traveling with 12 experienced sailors and three teachers for what was initially an educational trip, spent roughly five weeks trying to get back home – an experience a 17-year-old said he found “more exciting” than what he signed up for. This sounds like premise for a movie or a novel. (Antonia Farzan)
Some are getting married amid the pandemic.
“Across the world, the pandemic has forced the postponement of countless weddings, which are top social events of the year in many traditional societies. But some couples are somehow still finding a way to tie the knot — because they just can’t wait or are convinced it’s now or never,” Paul Schemm reports. “Many governments have recognized the risk of the virus spreading during weddings and moved quickly to close down wedding halls and ban gatherings. … [In the United Arab Emirates], the government announced that a couple from Abu Dhabi, the capital, had become the first to use the service and be married via Zoom. A similar service is expected to be organized for divorces. Yet it is not the ceremony that everyone remembers but the party with friends and family from all over. With this in mind, Indian couple Preet Singh and Neet Kaur decided to conduct their whole wedding party online; the bride and groom were not even in the same city. … The couple, fittingly, met online a year ago.”
Social media speed read
The Boston Globe ran 21 pages of death notices on Sunday:
Today's @BostonGlobe. 21 pages of death notices. 21 pages. #COVID19 #Massachusetts— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) April 26, 2020
Not all these deaths are COVID related, but still. This is the third time I have shared this over the last 3 Sundays. It's gone from 11 to 16 to 21 pages. pic.twitter.com/iPp5Dg6Q8h
On Sunday, his wife’s 50th birthday, Trump tweeted angrily about the media, lashing out at reporters who he said “have received Noble Prizes for their work on Russia, Russia, Russia, only to have been proven totally wrong.” He appeared to misspell the Nobel Prize, although journalists recognized for their coverage of the Russia investigation received a different prize, the Pulitzer. He later deleted the tweets and then tweeted that he was being sarcastic:
Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” Does sarcasm ever work?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2020
For over seven hours, the president unleashed a barrage of more than 30 tweets and retweets that also targeted his political opponents. He promoted a claim that accused his opponents of “three failed coup attempts,” and tried to discredit a New York Times story about his work habits, Allyson Chiu reports:
....schedule and eating habits, written by a third rate reporter who knows nothing about me. I will often be in the Oval Office late into the night & read & see that I am angrily eating a hamburger & Diet Coke in my bedroom. People with me are always stunned. Anything to demean!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2020
Trump claimed he hadn’t left the White House in “many months," but he did so last month:
He was in Palm Beach March 6-9 golfing, holding fundraisers and dinner with the president of Brazil https://t.co/pzn6Wx499c— Shannon Pettypiece (@spettypi) April 26, 2020
Videos of the day
Ruth Eglash, one of our correspondents in Jerusalem, got tested for the virus at one of Israel’s roadside testing booths:
“Saturday Night Live” was back – from home – this weekend, opening with Brad Pitt as Tony Fauci:
The show also featured a PSA from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (played by Cecily Strong):
And Trevor Noah compiled some good news: