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President Trump tweeted Monday night that he will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States. The president said he would be signing the order “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to or whether such an order would be possible.

Meanwhile, Republican governors of Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee announced earlier Monday plans to ease restrictions. In Georgia, despite not hitting its reopening benchmarks, Gov. Brian Kemp said gyms and salons will be allowed to reopen Friday. Restaurants and theaters may reopen next Monday, Kemp said.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Most Americans oppose protests calling for an end to stay-at-home orders, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll published Monday. The poll shows that 60 percent of Americans oppose the protesters while 22 percent support them and 18 percent were unsure.
  • The federal government plans to ramp up operations again as states ease restrictions, which would steadily send a little over 2 million government employees back to the office.
  • Oil prices dropped into negative territory because of the extraordinary decline in economic activity around the world. Because the world has a huge glut of oil, there’s hardly anywhere to put additional barrels and nobody is buying.
  • Several European nations were preparing to reopen some businesses on Monday, amid mounting pressure to arrest rapidly declining economic output. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged caution, warning about the threat of a relapse.
  • The number of hospital admissions of people suspected of having coronavirus in New York dropped over the weekend. Maryland received 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said some statewide measures meant to enforce social distancing would roll back on May 8.
  • The Trump administration and Congress is close to finalizing a deal that would inject roughly $300 billion into the small-business loan program that was overwhelmed with demand. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN she feels “optimistic and hopeful” that lawmakers will come to a conclusion Monday night. “We can’t go until we have the final agreement, but we’re close," she said.

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2:26 a.m.
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Trump says he will temporarily suspend immigration to U.S.

By Teo Armus

President Trump tweeted Monday night that he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States, though it was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to or if such an order would be possible.

The president said he would be signing the order “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” The White House declined to provide further details.

Last week, Trump declared that he had “total” authority to reopen the nation’s economy, before backtracking amid heavy criticism from governors.

Trump has used emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic to suspend laws that protect minors and asylum seekers, such that the government can immediately deport them or turn them away from the southern U.S. border.

Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, told The Washington Post that there are at least two legal justifications for Trump to close the border to all immigration.

Title 42 of the U.S. Code enables the president to halt immigration for health reasons, while a recent Supreme Court decision upholding his travel ban gives him unlimited authority on immigration.

If such an order were in fact signed, it would be unprecedented in American history, Nowrasteh said. In 1918, the worst year of that flu pandemic, the United States allowed tens of thousands of immigrants to enter the country.

And during World War II, the country continued to grant visas and allowed migrant workers from Mexico to enter through the bracero program.

1:52 a.m.
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‘The time for more excuses from President Trump is over,’ Biden says

By Felicia Sonmez

Former vice president Joe Biden sharply criticized President Trump in a statement Monday night, arguing that the president’s “failure to take swift action” to combat the coronavirus pandemic “has cost us grievously."

“It’s clear the president has no interest in solving this problem and saving lives,” Biden said. He added: “With the U.S. now leading the globe in confirmed cases and deaths, and with more than 22 million Americans having filed for unemployment claims, the time for more excuses from President Trump is over.”

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, argued that the United States needs more testing immediately, “not weeks down the road,” accusing Trump of providing only “excuses and buck-passing."

”The administration’s response on testing has been so slow, and so ineffective, that the Governor of Maryland — a Republican — had to turn to South Korea to get badly-needed tests," Biden added. “Think about that: a Governor had to turn to a country halfway around the world for aid because he couldn’t rely on timely help from a President and a White House that sits just miles from his state’s border.”

1:50 a.m.
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Kentucky has largest-ever day-over-day coronavirus infection increase after protests

By Samantha Pell

Kentucky saw its highest spike in coronavirus cases after protesters took to the streets last week to call for the state to lift lockdown.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced Sunday that Kentucky had 253 newly identified coronavirus cases and had an additional four new deaths. Beshear said the state will not reopen economic sectors or ease restrictions until there is a downward projection of reported cases for 14 days.

Protests occurred in Frankfort last Wednesday outside the Kentucky capitol. About 100 Kentuckians were protesting against Beshear’s restrictions, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Monday, the state had 102 new confirmed cases of covid-19, bringing the statewide total to at least 3,050, Beshear said at his Monday news briefing. The state also reported six new virus-related deaths, raising the total number of deaths to 154.

However, Beshear said the number of new cases as of Monday were a little “artificial” since a lot of labs that process test results were closed on Sunday.

He also announced that all Kentucky schools will be closed to in-person classes for the remainder of the year.

“We are still in the midst of this fight against a deadly and highly contagious virus,” Beshear said Sunday during his daily news conference. “Let’s make sure, as much as we’re looking at those benchmarks and we’re looking at the future, that we are acting in the present and we are doing the things that it takes to protect one another.”

Rallies against stay-at-home orders continued to grow last week as President Trump sided with protesters who called easing the restrictions on nonessential businesses, travel and schools.

1:37 a.m.
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Trump and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan square off on testing capacity

By Samantha Pell

There are more coronavirus testing sites that governors knew about and could be using, President Trump said in his Monday news briefing. In particular, he called out Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) for their alleged lack of awareness regarding testing sites.

“Hundreds and hundreds of labs are ready, willing and able, and some of the governors, like as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn’t really understand the list and he didn’t understand too much of what was going on, so now I think he will be able to do that,” Trump said. “It is pretty simple. They have tremendous capacity.”

Before Trump’s criticism, Hogan told reporters Monday afternoon that most of the Maryland labs identified by the White House were federal installations such as the National Institutes of Health and Fort Detrick and that some have not been helpful in assisting with testing.

“We already knew where all of the labs were,” Hogan said. “We’ve been pushing to get NIH to help us with testing for more than a month now.”

Hogan purchased 500,000 tests from South Korea, he announced Monday, citing the frustration over a lack of coronavirus tests and Trump’s past comments saying it was up to the states to secure testing.

“No, I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea,” Trump said in response to the deal. “I think [Hogan] needed to get a little knowledge, would have been helpful.”

Trump said that after Vice President Pence’s call Monday with state governors, the White House provided the names, addresses and phone numbers of all labs where states can find additional testing capacity. Trump flipped through pages of a printed list during the briefing to illustrate how many testing sites there were in each state.

Pence also stated during the briefing they would make sure Defense Department labs and other federal labs would help with testing.

“We told the governors once again today that by our best estimates, we have enough testing capacity today for every state in America to go to Phase 1,” he said.

1:17 a.m.
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Georgia Democrats voice concern about Kemp’s decision to reopen

By Meryl Kornfield and Steven Goff

Soon after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced Monday that the state would begin the process of reopening, the state’s Democratic leaders criticized the decision, saying it endangered people who would expose themselves and others to the coronavirus that continues to infect and kill.

State Sen. Nikema Williams, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, took to Twitter to urge residents to continue to stay home, despite some indoor facilities, such as bowling alleys, gyms and salons, reopening as soon as Friday. Georgia reported 52 virus-related deaths Monday and has reported 733 since the outbreak began.

“Without enough testing, without enough supplies for doctors and nurses, and without listening to medical professionals, the governor’s actions today will make this crisis even worse and put more Georgians at risk,” Williams wrote.

Pointing to Georgia’s high number of infections and low rate of testing, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran against Kemp in 2018, tweeted that reopening is “dangerously incompetent.”

Mayors also cautioned their city residents against following Kemp’s order. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, told ABC News that the city’s attorneys were reviewing whether Atlanta could direct its residents to stay home. She said Kemp didn’t communicate with her about the reopening announcement in advance.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, a Democrat, told CNN that his city is still experiencing infections and hasn’t seen a 14-day decline. State officials have yet to address how the virus is disproportionately affecting African Americans, Johnson said.

“I’m beyond disturbed,” he said. “In my mind, this is reckless, it’s premature and it’s dangerous. It’s not based in any type of science or any best practices."

12:50 a.m.
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Coronavirus in Muslim world alters Ramadan traditions

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Susannah George

CAIRO — Across the Muslim world, the fasting month of Ramadan that begins this week will be unlike any other in memory as the coronavirus pandemic alters the rituals and rhythms of centuries-old traditions and practices.

In many countries, authorities have enacted comprehensive lockdowns, imposed curfews and ordered travel bans in addition to suspending mosque prayers and banning other religious gatherings.

The strict measures, combined with closures of borders and airports, have hit the poor especially hard as unemployment soars and food prices spike just as Ramadan starts.

Read more here.

12:40 a.m.
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Texas councilman and his husband die two days apart

By Samantha Pell

A Texas councilman and his husband died the same week of the coronavirus, according to family members.

Anthony Brooks, a 42-year-old councilman in Live Oak, Tex., and a worker at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, died Tuesday night. His husband, Phillip Tsai-Brooks, 52, the owner of a salon called Extreme Opulence Hair Studio and a member of Live Oak’s Economic Development Corp., died two days earlier, on Easter Sunday.

Mary M. Dennis, the mayor of the San Antonio suburb, confirmed the deaths of both in a Facebook post Thursday.

“We are forever grateful for both Anthony’s and Phillip’s service to our Live Oak Community and to our country,” Dennis said. “May God bless their family and all who were blessed to call both men ‘friend.’ ”

Anthony Tsai, a brother of Tsai-Brooks, wrote that he was still in disbelief over the events and posted a message on Facebook on Friday: “We urge EVERYONE to stay home! Stop the spread! You don’t want to go through what we are going through. Rest in peace Tony and Phillip. Still in disbelief.”

Two other brothers of Tsai-Brooks, Alfred and Robert Tsai, shared the couple’s story with a local Fox affiliate in San Antonio. They said they wanted to “share Philip and Tony’s love story, and they know the way they died should serve as a warning to everyone young or old, healthy or sick, male or female.” The mother of one of the two men, who lived with the couple, also tested positive for the coronavirus and currently is having to cope with the tragic news on her own, according to the local station.

According to the GoFundMe set up for the families, “due to current circumstances and protocols, the family is unable to congregate for a funeral. However, any funds donated here will go towards a proper burial to honor both Phillip and Tony, as well as help the family cover their outstanding finances.”

12:34 a.m.
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Federal government seeks to ‘ramp back up’ operations as states reopen

By Steven Goff

As states begin easing pandemic restrictions, the federal government is aiming to return to normal operations.

In a memo issued Monday, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management said they will “ramp back up government operations to the maximum extent possible, as local conditions warrant.”

Federal operations will mirror the three-phase protocol geared toward states, which the White House unveiled Thursday. Agency heads, the memo says, will assess current operations, such as telework.

With 85 percent of the federal workforce outside the Washington area, “agency heads must be cognizant of the phasing status for all states and regions where an agency operates,” the memo said.

Agencies must continue to take precautions for high-risk employees, the memo said, and are “expected to continue the maximum telework policy.” That also applies to employees living with or caring for vulnerable individuals.

The memo also emphasized facility cleanliness and social distancing, and allowed agencies to provide face masks for employees and contractors. Agencies and OPM were instructed to post updates on operating status on their websites.

“The role of a public servant requires a unique responsibility to lead in times of crisis,” the memo said, “and during a period of recovery.”

12:00 a.m.
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Novak Djokovic says he won’t be ‘forced’ to get covid-19 vaccine

By Matt Bonesteel

The sports world probably will not be able to return to full normalcy until the development and deployment of a covid-19 vaccine. That process could take a year to 18 months, as said repeatedly by Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert.

But whenever it happens, 17-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic will face a dilemma, considering his opposition to vaccination that was revealed Sunday in a Facebook chat with other Serbian athletes.

“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” Djokovic said.

Read more here.

11:51 p.m.
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Nurses to protest at White House and demand protective equipment

By Steven Goff

The largest union of registered nurses is planning a White House protest on Tuesday to bring attention to shortages of personal protective equipment for health-care workers.

Members of National Nurses United will gather at 9:30 a.m. in Lafayette Square and read the names of nurses who have died of the novel coronavirus. The union told The Washington Post that at least 48 nurses have died of complications associated with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“With no federal health and safety standards, nurses and other health-care workers in many hospitals across the country have not been provided with adequate PPE to protect them from exposure to the virus,” said the union, which has 150,000 members.

The group is also demanding that President Trump use the Defense Production Act to boost supplies of N95 masks, respirators, face shields and other equipment.

The New York State Nurses Association, which represents 42,000 workers, filed suit Monday against the state and two hospital systems, alleging dangerous conditions.

11:51 p.m.
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Coronavirus more widespread but less lethal than official counts show, a preliminary study in L.A. says

By Joel Achenbach and Carolyn Y. Johnson

The coronavirus has infected far more people but is less lethal than official case counts show, according to preliminary results from a serology study in Los Angeles County that looked for antibodies to the virus.

The results of the survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, were revealed Monday in a joint news release. The study has not undergone review by scientific peers, a seal of approval regarded as the gold standard in research.

The team found that about 4.1 percent of adults who were tested had antibodies to the virus. Factoring in the margin of error in the tests, that would suggest between 221,000 and 442,000 people in Los Angeles County had been infected by early April. That is 28 to 55 times the official count of 7,994 at that time in Los Angeles, the researchers said.

Some of the same researchers were co-authors of another study, also not yet peer reviewed or published in a journal, that tested for antibodies among volunteers in Santa Clara County, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, and came to a parallel conclusion — that far more people have been infected than the official case counts document.

That study, led by researchers at Stanford University, concluded that the number of people infected in the county was 50 to 85 times the number with confirmed cases of covid-19.

The Stanford study provoked a backlash after it came out Friday on an online pre-print server, where many scientists have been publishing covid-19 material that has not been reviewed by peers. Critics from the ranks of epidemiologists raised many objections about the design of that study and the broad conclusions drawn from a small sample that looked for a statistically rare event. Another concern of critics is that volunteers were recruited via Facebook and may have been more likely to have had symptoms and may have wanted to find out whether they had been infected.

11:31 p.m.
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Trump says ‘nobody’s discussed’ whether companies will be liable if they reopen and employees get sick

By Felicia Sonmez

At Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump said he didn’t know whether companies that reopen for business will be liable if their employees contract the coronavirus.

“I’ll give you a legal answer to that one. We’ll look it up,” Trump said. “But we had tried to take liability away from these companies, which just don’t want that because we want the companies to open and open strong.”

Trump’s comments come days after his administration revealed a proposal for states to reopen their economies in phases if they meet certain criteria on testing, the number of confirmed cases and hospital capacity, among other things.

Pressed on whether his administration had discussed the issue of liability for companies, Trump responded, “Nobody’s discussed it. No. But we will now.”

Trump held conference calls last week with dozens of business executives he has enlisted to join an advisory council on addressing the coronavirus pandemic. He said Monday that “not one” of those executives had raised the issue of liability, although he then appeared to clarify his remarks, noting that “they have talked about general liability."

“So I’ll give you a specific answer from the lawyers,” he said.

11:28 p.m.
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N.Y. nurses sue state, 2 hospital systems

By Samantha Pell

The New York State Nurses Association filed three lawsuits against the state and two hospital systems on Monday for failing to protect the health and safety of the nurses during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The lawsuits against the state Department of Health and two hospitals — Montefiore and Westchester medical centers — claim, among other things: the lack of personal protective equipment, not properly training nurses redeployed from hospital units; and inadequate provision of safe working conditions for high-risk employees, including pregnant nurses.

“More than seven in ten of our nurses are reporting exposure to COVID-19 and most are still untested. These lawsuits were filed to protect our nurses, our patients and our communities from grossly inadequate and negligent protections,” NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane said in a statement. “We cannot allow these dangerous practices to continue.”

The association represents more than 42,000 members in New York and is the state’s largest union and professional organization for registered nurses.

The lawsuit against the Health Department seeks to enforce Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s directive of April 13 that each direct-care nurse is given at least one N95 respirator daily. The lawsuit also alleges “a failure to provide sick leave afforded to all New Yorkers and forcing nurses to come to work sick — putting their co-workers, patients, families and communities at risk.”

The action against Montefiore was on behalf of 3,000 nurses at the hospital, seeking to restore safe working conditions for nurses and their patients.

The lawsuit against Westchester was on behalf of 1,600 nurses seeking an injunction “against hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to nurses. Among the causes of action: intimidation of RNs who have spoken out publicly about deficiencies in the hospital’s responses to COVID-19.”

10:38 p.m.
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Louisiana governor says ‘phase 1’ of state’s economic reopening could come by May 1

By David Montgomery

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced the first step toward reopening the state — the return of certain types of non-emergency medical procedures starting April 27 — and he expressed hope that the state could be ready for the first stage of a cautious economic return by May 1.

The state is on a trajectory toward meeting the criteria of “phase 1” of the three-phase reopening guidance offered by President Trump last week, Edwards said Monday at a news briefing. The criteria include 14 days of fewer suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases; fewer hospitalizations, with hospitals able to manage the caseload; and robust testing.

“We don’t have 14 days where we meet the criteria, but we’ve been trending well over the last week or so to get there,” Edwards said.

He cautioned that it is too soon to guarantee what the state will be ready May 1 — and much still depends on residents obeying the statewide stay-at-home order in effect through April 30. He also noted that even Trump’s first phase does not call for starting up the economy all at once.

“I want to reopen the economy as quickly as we can do that and protect public safety and save lives all at the same time,” Edwards said.

The governor’s proclamation regarding medical procedures means that surgeries that have been put off during the pandemic will now be allowed if doctors determine that delay could be detrimental to the patient.

On the testing front, Edwards said the state needs to be administering 150,000 to 200,000 tests per month to support a safe reopening. State health officials are aiming to meet that level by the end of May. So far, the state has reported more than 141,000 tests since the beginning of the pandemic. The state health department is also planning to increase its force of contact-tracers from 70 to 700.

As of Monday, Louisiana has reported 24,523 total cases and 1,328 deaths, including 6,148 cases and 339 deaths in New Orleans.