Beaches in Southern California were packed with people over the weekend as a spring heat wave drew tens of thousands of lockdown-weary residents out of quarantine and onto the sand.
With temperatures climbing into the 80s and 90s, Huntington Beach and New Port Beach in Orange County, Calif., saw crowds of about 40,000, police and lifeguards told local media, far more than they’re accustomed to seeing this time of year.
“We’re seeing a summer day crowd,” Brian O’Rourke, a lifeguard battalion chief in Newport Beach in Orange County, told the Associated Press.
California remains under a statewide stay-at-home order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, but recreation is still permitted throughout the state as an essential activity.
Some local governments have restricted access to parks and playgrounds, but Orange County officials voted last week to keep its beaches open.
For the most part, people seemed to be keeping their distance. Ventura County beachgoers were allowed to walk along the sand and get their feet wet, but officers said they were barred from sitting or lying down.
“After being cooped up, we understand people want to enjoy the outside,” Ventura Police Cmdr. Tom Higgins told the Los Angeles Times.
Up the road in Los Angeles County, beaches were closed as part of the city’s coronavirus restrictions, and officials were telling people to stay home.
“A day or two of fun, leading to weeks more of us being in our homes and not being able to go out, simply isn’t worth it,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Public health experts worry that “quarantine fatigue” may be setting in across the country, driving growing numbers of Americans to disregard stay-at-home orders for the first time since states implemented them in mid-March.
Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recorded a slight uptick in people venturing outside during the week of April 13, stoking concerns that cooperation with movement restrictions was starting to wane.
Day 5 was the worst. The debilitating symptoms from covid-19 came in waves as Jason Chatfield remained horizontal in an empty house in Tulsa. He didn’t want to down food. He had trouble sitting upright enough to drink water. And despite his need for sleep, the fever and shivering kept him awake for hours at a time.
“You have God-awful fever-dreams about anything from time travel to Frasier Crane,” Chatfield says of his surreal, sitcom-laced mind-set, as well as “pain in your hips and back. . . . It’s quite the ride.”
Chatfield, 35, is a New York-based cartoonist and comedian who decided to get far from the city in early March. He and his wife Sophie, 32, took up their friends’ invitation to spend the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic on a remote farm in rural Oklahoma. The irony is, they believe they contracted covid-19 while traveling west.
Donald Kennedy, a neurobiologist who steered Stanford University to rising national influence as its president through the 1980s but stepped down amid intense scrutiny of how the Silicon Valley research powerhouse charged the government for overhead expenses, died April 21 in Redwood City, Calif. He was 88.
Kennedy had a stroke in 2015 but the immediate cause was complications from the novel coronavirus, said his wife, Robin Kennedy.
A champion of science and public service, Donald Kennedy was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration during the Carter administration before he began his 12-year run as Stanford’s eighth president in 1980. After his presidency, he was editor in chief of Science magazine for eight years and wrote editorials urging policymakers to focus on challenges such as climate change.
The Internal Revenue Service is asking thousands of employees to return to the workplace starting Monday, according to the agency and an internal memo that was circulated by lawmakers Saturday.
“People have differing levels of concern associated with the current situation,” the memo stated, as much of the country remains under stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “As we return to the worksite, we need to respect and balance the concerns of others with the requirement to continue our mission-critical functions.”
The IRS said in a statement that it is offering incentive pay to workers who volunteer to come back. The head of the National Treasury Employees Union, Tony Reardon, told Politico that an “initial wave” of about 10,000 employees is being asked, but not required, to return to 10 locations.
The IRS says in its memo that employees have to follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cover their faces while working. The agency is asking employees to supply their own personal protective equipment — a requirement that two lawmakers denounced as “irresponsible and unethical.”
Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement Saturday they are particularly troubled given that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told congressional staff 100 IRS employees have contracted covid-19 and four have died.
“The IRS should not require any employees it deems essential to report to work until it is able to provide those individuals with the protective equipment they are required to wear,” the lawmakers stated.
The IRS said in a statement to The Post that it is exceeding federal guidelines as it recalls staff and has been working to obtain personal protective equipment for them. Some of those materials are expected to arrive as early as the weekend, the agency said.
Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recently made a disturbing discovery: For the first time since states began implementing stay-at-home orders in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are staying home less.
The nationwide shift during the week of April 13 was relatively slight. However, any loss of momentum, particularly when stay-in-place orders remain in effect across most of the country, has some public health experts worried about “quarantine fatigue.”
Any increase in travel, they say, is premature when staying home remains the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus until widespread testing and contact tracing become available.
NBA teams will be allowed to reopen their practice facilities during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic if their local governments have loosened stay-at-home orders, according to people with knowledge of the decision.
Under the league’s new guidelines, players in affected areas would be able to conduct individual workouts only beginning May 1. Teams still would not be allowed to hold organized group workouts or practices.
The process that began in recent days with back-in-business nail salons and unbarred sandy beaches in a scattering of states is poised to accelerate over the coming week across wide swaths of the country.
Illinois officials say they’ve seen an uptick in calls to their poison control services after President Trump wondered Thursday whether disinfectants could be used in the body to treat coronavirus.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during Thursday’s White House news briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Trump later said the comments were sarcastic.
In a news conference Saturday, Ngozi Ezike, Illinois’s public health director, said there has been a spike in poison control calls the past two days, including reports of people using disinfectants as a sinus rinse. Ezike described another person who reportedly used a combination of bleach and mouthwash to kill germs.
Alarmed officials in other states have also been warning against injecting or ingesting cleaning products after Trump’s statements.
Maryland’s Emergency Management Agency issued a reminder Friday on social media that “under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.” The governor’s office said that it decided to issue that tweet after more than 100 people called their hotline seeking information about the president’s claims.
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Boris Johnson will return to work Monday after a bout with covid-19, reports say
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to his office Monday after battling covid-19, nearly a month after he tested positive for the virus, according to media reports citing Downing Street.
Johnson, 55, will return to his usual schedule, according to British news outlets, after recovering from a disease that put him in the hospital.
Johnson tested positive for the novel coronavirus March 26 and continued his duties as prime minister for a time in self-isolation. More than a week passed before Johnson checked into a hospital, and by April 6, Downing Street announced that his condition had worsened and he was moved into intensive care.
On Easter Sunday, Johnson was released from St. Thomas’ Hospital and continued his recovery at Chequers, the official country residence of the prime minister.
Though Johnson did not receive breathing assistance through a ventilator, the prime minister’s father described the gravity of the situation to the BBC, discussing in casual terms how Johnson “nearly took one for the team.”
Johnson, a conservative and Brexit booster, won election last December based on his vow to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
D.C. university dining workers push companies, schools for financial help, with little success
For Kevin Hollins, a catering driver at Howard University, there’s one surprising upside of school being closed for the coronavirus: “I actually developed a green thumb.”
But the green peppers, tomatoes and herbs sprouting outside his home in Southeast Washington are less evidence of a new hobby and more a means of survival. Hollins has been without work since Howard closed in March.
“Anything that I can do to avoid spending money,” said Hollins, a father of three.
A California sandwich shop that posted a sign mocking responses to the coronavirus pandemic is now facing backlash — including from another business that shares the same name.
Like most businesses that have remained open amid sweeping stay-at-home orders, the Full O Bull Subs & Pizza restaurant in Fresno, Calif., posted fliers on its front door reminding customers to stay six feet apart in the stores. The notice was required by the “morons” running the city, according to photos of the fliers which started to circulate Friday, the Fresno Bee reports.
“As required by the morons that run our city we are posting this sign to remind you that due to the media driven panic of Covid-19 you are required to stay 6 feet away from each other,” one flier read.
The note’s last line said customers had been warned about the “Kung-Flu.” Critics have warned that using such terms for the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in China, are inaccurate and stoke xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment.
The restaurant’s phone number appeared to be disconnected Saturday, but the Full of Bull restaurant in nearby Clovis, Calif., weighed in with a Facebook post Friday rebuking the Fresno restaurant’s message. The Clovis restaurant stressed that it was independently owned and operated and that the two businesses are not affiliated.
Ashley Besinger, who co-owns the Clovis business, told the Fresno Bee that they’re considering sending the other location a cease-and-desist letter over what she described as its divisive message.
“It’s just sad and disappointing, and with everything else going on and we’re asking the community to support local businesses, and then they do this?” Besinger said. “It upsets me. And it’s upsetting for this entire community.”
Fauci says U.S. should — and can — double weekly coronavirus testing in coming weeks
Anthony S. Fauci — the infectious diseases expert helping to steer the White House’s coronavirus response — said Saturday that the United States should double the number of coronavirus tests it’s performing in the next several weeks, and has the capacity to do so.
Fauci estimated on a webcast for the National Academy of Sciences that the country is conducting 1.5 to 2 million tests a week. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clarified that he was referring to diagnostic testing, not antibody tests.
“We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will,” Fauci said during the webcast.
He added that, while testing is an essential component in halting the spread of the coronavirus, it is not the only one. Fauci also discussed the importance of social distancing, properly isolating covid-19 patients and tracing people who have been in contact with those patients, so they can isolate accordingly.
Trump says daily coronavirus briefings not worth his time, a day after leaving before questions
After leaving the White House briefing Friday evening without taking reporters’ questions, President Trump said Saturday that he thinks they are a waste of time, blaming the press pool for “hostile questions.”
“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Trump tweeted. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”
If Trump is done having the daily news briefings, his final back and forth with reporters will have been Thursday, when he wondered aloud whether light and disinfectant could be used internally to kill the coronavirus.
Trump later claimed that his comment about disinfectant was meant sarcastically and was directed at a reporter, rather than a real recommendation.
Trump, who went on a tweet tear around the time that he otherwise would have been in front of the cameras at the briefing, also denied that he had asked any questions of White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx during that controversial briefing.
“Was just informed that the Fake News from the Thursday White House Press Conference had me speaking & asking questions of Dr. Deborah Birx. Wrong, I was speaking to our Laboratory expert, not Deborah, about sunlight etc. & the CoronaVirus. The Lamestream Media is corrupt & sick!” he tweeted.
The transcript released by the White House shows that he did direct a question to Birx.
“Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus –” Trump asked her.
“Not as a treatment,” Birx responded cautiously. “I mean, certainly fever is a good thing.”
Trump, top aides working behind the scenes to sideline WHO
President Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, according to U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions.
Last week, the president announced a 60-day hold on U.S. money to the WHO, but other steps by his top officials go beyond a temporary funding freeze, raising concerns about permanently weakening the organization amid a rapidly spreading crisis.