Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The United States on Tuesday reported more than 1,800 coronavirus-related fatalities, a new one-day high.

Covid-19 appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying.

Here are some other significant developments:

  • President Trump removed the chairman of the federal panel that Congress created to oversee his administration’s management of the $2 trillion stimulus package.
  • Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly resigned one day after he prompted a firestorm by traveling to the USS Theodore Roosevelt and assailing the character of the ship’s former captain.
  • In the absence of a national testing plan, several states are developing their own systems. States with more money and robust medical sectors have devised comprehensive plans, while others lag far behind.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in his second night of intensive care, battling a coronavirus infection and “receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance,” according to his official spokesman.
  • Treasury is preparing to ask Congress to swiftly commit an additional $200 billion for a small-business relief program that is overwhelmed by demand.
  • Trump is threatening to withhold funds from the World Health Organization.
  • Hundreds of voters stood in lines that stretched for blocks in several Wisconsin cities Tuesday to cast ballots amid fears of the coronavirus.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | What you need to know about the virus | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

April 7, 2020 at 11:55 PM EDT

Los Angeles health official says families with relatives in nursing homes should consider bringing them home

Families with relatives in nursing homes may want to think seriously about bringing them home, Los Angeles County’s top public health official said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

As senior homes and other residential facilities nationwide emerge as ground zero for the novel coronavirus, a growing number of experts have issued similar advice. Because so many people are working from home, they say, it may be easier for them to care for a sick family member.

Similar comments from L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said it would be “perfectly appropriate” to pull loved ones out of long-term-care facilities, may mark one of the most official endorsements of that strategy.

More than 120 nursing homes across the county — the largest in the nation — have reported coronavirus infections, including one facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., with at least four deaths and 38 cases.

The combination of vulnerable residents with underlying health conditions and tight concentrations of people, including staff that comes in and out, means the death rate in some homes may approach 50 percent, some experts have warned.

Ferrer said she sympathized with families facing the “horrible reality” that they cannot care for a loved one at home, the Los Angeles Times reported.

By Teo Armus
April 7, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT

Newsom: California secures 200 million masks per month, vast majority N95 masks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has secured contracts for 200 million masks per month, enough to meet the state’s needs and to potentially export to other Western states, he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday.

The vast majority of those masks (150 million) are N95 masks, and 50 million are surgical masks. Newsom said he inked the deals for the masks within the last 48 hours through a consortium of nonprofit organizations and a large manufacturer.

He expects those masks to arrive in California in “the next few weeks.”

“Look, we’ve been competing against other states, other nations, against our own federal government for PPE, coveralls, masks, shields, N95 masks,” Newsom said on MSNBC. “We are not waiting around any longer. … We decided enough of the small ball. Let’s use our purchasing power, let’s go at scale, and we built a consortium of nonprofits and a large manufacturer with appropriate contacts in Asia.”

Newsom said California has already distributed 41.4 million N95 masks. The state has received just over 1 million masks from the federal government. Across the country, the country’s Strategic National Stockpile has continued to run low on critical hospital supplies.

“At the end of the day, they don’t have the masks at the national stockpile,” Newsom said.

By Samantha Pell
April 7, 2020 at 11:03 PM EDT

Joe Biden says Wisconsin primary should not have been conducted using in-person ballots

Joe Biden on Tuesday night said that the Wisconsin primary election should not have been conducted using in-person ballots, his first criticism of the state after saying in recent days it was up to local officials.

“My gut is that we shouldn’t have had the election in the first place, the in-person election,” he said in an interview on CNN with Chris Cuomo, who has been broadcasting from his basement after testing positive for the coronavirus. “It should have been all mail ballots. It should have been moved in the way that five other states have done it. The idea we didn’t have enough poll workers in what, over 100 and some polling places in Milwaukee?

"This was all about the Republican legislature pushing really, really hard to maintain and make sure they had an election. I think they know that low turnout affects their interests.”

While criticizing the state for having an in-person election, Biden also said that, in the wake of Wisconsin’s decision, other elections should not be postponed, particularly the general election in November.

“No. it shouldn’t creep into your mind. Look, we’ve been through hell before,” he said, pointing to wartime elections or the one conducted during the 1918 influenza pandemic. “We had elections in every major crisis. We can take care of our health and our democracy. The idea of postponing an election is not possible. It should not happen.”

Biden also spoke about the call that he had with President Trump on Monday, although he said that at Trump’s request he would not discuss details of their conversation.

“I laid out what I thought he should be doing — laid out four or five specific points that I thought were necessary,” he said. “I indicated that it was about taking responsibility, being commander in chief.

"He was very gracious in the conversation.”

By Matt Viser
April 7, 2020 at 10:35 PM EDT

A hospital in France stopped hydroxychloroquine treatment because of cardiac side effects

Professor Émile Ferrari, the head of the cardiology department at Nice University Hospital in Nice, France, told a local news outlet he has had to stop treating patients with hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin because of adverse cardiac effects.

Nice University Hospital was selected as part of a trial to test some coronavirus treatments, including hydroxychloroquine. Ferrari told Nice-Matin newspaper that one patient experienced a serious complication and that the treatment was stopped immediately.

The cardiologist reiterated what health experts have warned about the drug combination: that the drugs can trigger arrhythmia, which can lead to a fatal heart attack in some patients, especially those who have heart conditions or are on certain medications.

In the United States, doctors have recommended screening patients with an electrocardiogram to prevent the drugs from being given to the 1 percent of patients at greatest risk of a cardiac event, The Washington Post has reported. The drugs also can cause vision loss called retinopathy with long-term use, and chloroquine has been associated with psychosis.

So far, there is no clear evidence that the drugs work to treat the coronavirus, though their antiviral properties have been tested in labs. Rigorous clinical trials that test the drugs in humans against placebos have not been completed.

Ferrari told Nice-Martin that although covid-19 can kill, the treatment should not be more harmful than the disease.

By Angela Fritz
April 7, 2020 at 10:23 PM EDT

John Prine, Grammy-winning bard of ‘broken hearts and dirty windows,’ dies at 73 of coronavirus

John Prine was a raspy-voiced heartland troubadour who wrote and performed songs about faded hopes, failing marriages, flies in the kitchen and the desperation of people just getting by. He was, as one of his songs put it, the bard of “broken hearts and dirty windows.”

He recorded more than 20 albums, won three competitive Grammy Awards and helped define a genre of music that came to be called Americana. He was a significant influence on a younger generation of singer-songwriters, including Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell and the Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, who called him “the closest thing I could imagine to ever being around Mark Twain.”

Mr. Prine, 73, died April 7 in Nashville of complications from the novel coronavirus, the media relations firm Sacks & Co. said on behalf of his family. He overcame throat cancer in the 1990s and lung cancer in 2013.

Read more here.

By Matt Schudel
April 7, 2020 at 10:05 PM EDT

States, hospitals scramble to set guidelines on prioritizing who gets a ventilator

While President Trump and members of his coronavirus task force dismiss talk of shortages that would lead to rationing care or equipment such as ventilators, state officials and doctors in U.S. hot spots warn that it is inevitable in some places — and that such rationing is coming soon.

If — or when — that point is reached, many hospitals would activate grim triage plans that would rank patients based on who is most likely to benefit from the intensive care.

“There are a lot of competing visions of good,” said Charles Camosy, an associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University. “The number and the gravity of judgments we have to make are astronomical.”

Read more here.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Laurie McGinley
April 7, 2020 at 9:24 PM EDT

Los Angeles mayor institutes mandatory face coverings at essential businesses

Los Angeles residents will be required to cover their faces when visiting essential businesses as of midnight Friday, a rule aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced Tuesday.

Workers at essential businesses will be required to cover their faces. The mayor said wearing a mask, bandanna or other type of covering will suffice, as long as mouths and noses are covered. Essential businesses include grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, pharmacies and ride-share services, according to the mayor.

Los Angeles is not the first area to implement a hard rule on face coverings, though it is so far the largest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday that people wear simple face coverings when they are out in public. The same day, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) made a similar announcement, requiring customers and workers to cover their faces at essential businesses.

Two California counties, Riverside and San Diego, have enacted this measure, mandating residents to cover their faces at essential businesses and recommending they do so in public.

By Jesse Dougherty
April 7, 2020 at 9:00 PM EDT

Without a national testing plan, states are developing their own systems

Three months into the coronavirus epidemic, the Trump administration has yet to devise a national strategy to test Americans for the deadly disease — something experts say is key to blunting the outbreak and resuming daily life.

In the absence of a national plan, several states are developing their own testing systems, but the emerging picture varies widely. States with more money and robust medical sectors have devised comprehensive plans, while others lag far behind.

Read more here.

By Juliet Eilperin, Laurie McGinley, Steven Mufson and Josh Dawsey
April 7, 2020 at 8:31 PM EDT

Study calls into question effectiveness of school closures to prevent spread

School closures related to the coronavirus pandemic have affected an estimated 1.5 billion children around the world. A study carried out by a team of researchers at University College London questions just how effective such policies are.

The study, published Sunday in the journal Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, examines the effectiveness of past school closures to stop the spread of viruses, including those from the SARS outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The researchers found that these measures probably “did not contribute to the control of the epidemic.”

“Recent modelling studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2-4% of deaths, much less than other social distancing interventions,” the study’s authors wrote.

Russell Viner, one of the authors and a professor of adolescent health, told The Washington Post that he did not want people to come away from the research with the idea that school closures as a result of the pandemic were bad.

“In the U.K., I absolutely support the government closing schools,” he said, adding that Britain has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus.

For the time being, in those places it’s worth shuttering schools, he said. But as the virus’s spread abates, “we need to not leave school reopening to later,” Viner said. The study proposes opening schools back up in a way that incorporates social distancing — for instance, by having students in different grades come in at various times so the buildings are less crowded.

By Ruby Mellen
April 7, 2020 at 8:13 PM EDT

Post analysis: Coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

Covid-19 appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to an analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country.

The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 in the United States.

Read the Washington Post analysis here.

By Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran and Vanessa Williams
April 7, 2020 at 7:46 PM EDT

Trump threatens to withhold funds from the World Health Organization

Trump criticized the World Health Organization at the White House coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday, saying: “We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.”

When asked about that decision later, Trump backtracked and indicated that he is still considering the measure.

“We’re going to look at it,” Trump said. He made these remarks on World Health Day.

Trump said the WHO “seemed to be very China-centric,” and he has suggested that the organization has not been critical enough of China’s coronavirus statistics. China is a WHO member state.

“We want to look at the World Health Organization because they called it wrong,” Trump said Tuesday. “They called it wrong. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. They should have known, and they probably did know, so we’ll be looking into that very carefully.”

The WHO was reporting about a pneumonia of unknown cause in late December. The organization declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30. It then declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11 and criticized countries for not acting aggressively enough to limit its spread.

When asked in January if he were worried about the coronavirus becoming a pandemic, Trump answered with a flat “no.” At a rally on Feb. 28, the president called coronavirus a “new hoax” by Democrats.

Trump did not release guidelines for social distancing or other ways to limit the spread until March 16.

By Jesse Dougherty
April 7, 2020 at 7:35 PM EDT

Trump says it will be Democrats’ fault if Wisconsin voters get sick, not his

At the daily White House coronavirus briefing, President Trump was asked who should be held responsible if Wisconsinites become ill after standing in long lines to vote.

“Look, all I did was endorse a candidate,” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about their lines. I don’t know anything about their voting.”

On Twitter this morning, Trump encouraged voters to go to the polls to support Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. He claimed that until he endorsed Kelly, Democrats had not raised concerns about delaying the primary.

“All I did was endorse a candidate that’s highly qualified, very respected person, and all hell broke loose as soon as I did that. And then all of a sudden, they want to change. Before I endorsed him, they didn’t want to change this voting area. There was no problem with the Democrats voting until I endorsed the candidate,” Trump said. “Safety, safety, safety, right? All of a sudden they want safety.”

Trump endorsed Kelly in January. On April 3, the president tweeted his support for him. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) pushed for mail-in voting on March 27, but talk of delaying the election didn’t start until a few days ago.

When pressed on how standing in line to vote squared with social distancing recommendations, Trump said the Democrats in charge at the state level would have to answer that. Health officials in the state were predicting that today’s election fell right in the middle of a peak infection spread period in Wisconsin.

Trump also railed against mail-in voting, claiming that there was widespread fraud in mail-in voting. When reminded that he votes that way to cast his ballot in Florida, Trump replied: “Because I’m allowed to. … You know why I voted? Because I happen to be in the White House and I won’t be able to go to Florida vote.”

Trump said that is a “big difference” from in-state voters voting by mail.

By Colby Itkowitz
April 7, 2020 at 7:22 PM EDT

The most false content about coronavirus is on Twitter, researchers say

Almost 60 percent of false information about the coronavirus remains on Twitter, say researchers at the University of Oxford, who examined 225 pieces of content that had been debunked by independent fact-checkers, according to a study released Tuesday night.

The study examined content that fact-checkers had rated as false or misleading between January and March — 59 percent of it remained on Twitter, 27 percent remained on YouTube and 24 percent remained on Facebook.

The most common subject of coronavirus misinformation concerned false claims about the actions of government or other international authorities, such as the United Nations or the World Health Organization.

The most powerful spreaders of misinformation were politicians, celebrities or other public figures. The report cited President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as politicians who have made documented false statements about the pandemic.

Twitter said it created a policy against misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic on March 18, which could explain the uneven results from a study whose data set started in January. Since introducing that policy, Twitter said, it had removed “more than 1,100 Tweets and challenged 1.5 million potentially spammy accounts targeting COVID-19 discussions.”

Spokesmen for YouTube and Facebook said their organizations moved quickly to remove false information from their platforms.

By Craig Timberg
April 7, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT

Trump suggests without evidence that Pentagon watchdog could have been biased

Trump cast his decision to remove Glenn Fine from his position as the Defense Department’s acting inspector general as simply cleaning house of Obama-era holdover appointments, saying those officials could be biased.

Fine had been selected to lead a committee of inspectors general to provide cross-agency oversight of how funds from the coronavirus relief package were spent. His removal as the Pentagon’s top watchdog made him ineligible for that job.

“We have a lot of IGs in from the Obama era. And as you know, it’s a presidential decision. And I left them, largely. I mean, changed some, but I left them,” Trump said at Tuesday’s White House briefing when asked about Fine’s removal. “But when we have, you know, reports of bias and when we have different things coming in — I don’t know Fine. I don’t think I ever met Fine. I heard the name.”

“I don’t know where he is — maybe was from Clinton,” Trump added.

Fine was appointed by President Bill Clinton as inspector general of the Justice Department at the end of his administration. He stayed on through President George W. Bush’s term and through most of President Barack Obama’s. He served as acting Pentagon inspector general for more than four years.

By Colby Itkowitz