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As more than half of America’s governors have relaxed coronavirus-driven restrictions, protests against stay-at-home orders have spread. In Nevada, a chanting crowd of protesters marched up to the door of the governor’s residence on Saturday, drawing police who stood with automatic weapons. And a group demanding to “Fully Open California” organized to cause traffic gridlock in Laguna Beach.

With confirmed US. deaths topping 65,000, efforts to reopen the country also are sparking outcries about public safety. But officials have battled crowds and some public resistance to mask-wearing and social distancing measures.

Here are significant developments:

  • In a rare joint statement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they are “respectfully” declining the Trump administration’s offer to deploy rapid coronavirus testing capabilities on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers return to work Monday.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arguably the world’s most famous coronavirus patient, said that his condition was so serious that plans were made for how to announce his death if he didn’t pull through.
  • An Oklahoma city walked back a requirement that people wear face masks inside reopened stores and restaurants, citing threats of violence and physical abuse directed at employees.
  • In the latest sign of a struggling economy, investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on Saturday recorded a $49.7 billion loss in the first quarter of the year.
  • Companies are launching vaccine trials at an unprecedented pace, but some worry about the trade-offs between speed and safety.
  • As many as 98 residents of a Manhattan nursing home may have died of the virus in one of the deadliest nursing home outbreaks reported in the United States.

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3:19 a.m.
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Drug industry warns that cuts to passenger airline service have put medical supplies at risk

Dramatic cuts in passenger airline service in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have had an unintended consequence: disrupting the supply chain for the pharmaceutical industry, which relies on room in the bellies of passenger jets to quickly move drugs around the world.

The loss of the cargo space has revealed itself in dramatically higher costs for airfreight. The normal rate of a few dollars per kilogram — a little over two pounds — has surged to as much as $15, customs brokers say.

Organizations representing major drugmakers have warned that the strain on their supply chains could affect their ability to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

Read more here.

2:59 a.m.
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Boom-and-bust federal funding after 9/11 undercut hospitals’ preparedness for pandemics

Days after 9/11, Congress awarded Washington Hospital Center millions of dollars to design a new emergency department that would treat mass casualties from a terrorist attack or infectious disease and serve as a model for hospitals across the country.

But then Congress lost interest. It never appropriated the $120 million requested to complete “ER One."

The boom-and-bust cycle of federal spending has characterized the U.S. government’s response to national health emergencies over the past two decades. Of the more than $118 billion the federal government invested from 2001 through 2017 in protecting the nation from health threats, less than $6 billion went to assisting the nation’s network of more than 6,000 hospitals, records show.

“The urgency dissipated and unfortunately, this is always how Congress works,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said. “I can only hope we now focus on how this pandemic changes the way we look at preparing for the unthinkable.”

2:35 a.m.
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Maryland cancels $12.5 million PPE contract with firm started by GOP operatives

The state of Maryland on Saturday terminated a $12.5 million contract for personal protective equipment with a firm started this spring by two well-connected Republican operatives.

State officials said the company, Blue Flame Medical, failed to deliver masks and ventilators as promised and that the matter has been referred to Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) for review.

Blue Flame received a down payment of nearly $6.3 million from Maryland in early April — after promising to provide within weeks desperately needed PPE for front-line medical personnel dealing with the novel coronavirus.

1:54 a.m.
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Large hotel company reverses course, plans to give back millions from federal loan program

The Ashford Group, a publicly traded hotel management company, announced Saturday that the conglomerate and its affiliates will return millions in aid from the federal government’s loan program meant for small businesses devastated by the pandemic.

The reversal came after days of scrutiny leveled at CEO Monty Bennett, whose company had previously defended its qualification for funds from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The Ashford Group, which includes Ashford Inc., Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. and Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc., had applied for $126 million and received $76 million so far. In the statement released Saturday night, the group said it will return all the money because of “recently changed rules and inconsistent federal guidance that put the companies at compliance risk.”

According to data compiled by The Washington Post, nearly 300 public companies received more than $1 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was initially allotted $349 billion and then expanded when funds were quickly depleted.

When the first round of the funding dried up — leaving many business still clamoring for help — several big companies including the Los Angeles Lakers, Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly returned the financial aid. However, last week, Ashford said it planned to keep the money.

Bennett, who has donated to the Republican National Committee and President Trump, came under fire from Democratic politicians. On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the head of the Small Business Administration, Jovita Carranza, calling for a “full and thorough review of all the loans made to Ashford Inc. and two real estate investment trusts that it advises.” On Saturday, former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, advocated in a tweet for Bennett to return the money.

Recently, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the government plans to audit all PPP loans over $2 million before forgiving them.

1:27 a.m.
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With many movie theaters still closed, drive-ins try to show the way

Last month, Jim Kopp found himself excited about the upcoming spring movie season as he opened Family Drive-in Theatre — the classic venue he owns 10 miles south of Winchester, Va. — after a three-month winter hiatus. He showed hits such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and entertained thoughts of a period flush with crowds and dollars.

A week later, he was struck by the same fate as most entertainment businesses: He was forced dark by the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order.

Now, with some states easing restrictions on businesses, Kopp lit up his screens this weekend with a pair of animated movies. His effort symbolizes the country’s fraught return to public entertainment, reflecting both the harsh economic conditions and the fragile hope that seeks to flower within them.

1:00 a.m.
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Cellphone monitoring is spreading with the coronavirus. So is an uneasy tolerance of surveillance.

ISTANBUL — A smartphone app in Turkey asked for Murat Bur’s identity number, his father’s name and information about his relatives. Did he have any underlying health conditions, the app wondered, presenting him a list of options. How was he feeling at the moment, it asked. It also requested permission to track his movements.

None of this felt intrusive to Bur, a 38-year-old personal trainer. “I do not see the harm in people being followed,” he said. “There is an extraordinary situation in the world.”

To the feelings of fear, restlessness, insecurity and sorrow taking hold around the globe, the pandemic has added another certainty: being watched.

In a matter of months, tens of millions of people in dozens of countries have been placed under surveillance. Governments, private companies and researchers observe the health, habits and movements of citizens, often without their consent. It is a massive effort, aimed at enforcing quarantine rules or tracing the spread of the novel coronavirus, that has sprung up pell-mell in country after country.

12:41 a.m.
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Excess U.S. deaths hit estimated 37,100 in pandemic’s early days, far more than previously known

The United States recorded an estimated 37,100 excess deaths as the novel coronavirus spread across the country in March and the first two weeks of April, nearly 13,500 more than are now attributed to covid-19 for that same period, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The Yale team’s analysis suggests that the number of excess deaths accelerated as the pandemic took hold. There were 16,600 estimated excess deaths just in the week of April 5 to April 11, compared with 20,500 over the prior five weeks.

12:20 a.m.
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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reports $49.7 billion loss in first quarter

Investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recorded a $49.7 billion loss in the first quarter of the year, reflecting the pandemic’s blow to the conglomerate’s vast array of holdings.

The loss, which stood in contrast to the company’s reported $21.6 billion in earnings in the first quarter of 2019, was driven by a $54.5 billion drop in the value of its investments in a struggling economy.

In its regulatory filing announcing the loss, Berkshire Hathaway said the government and private sector’s responses to the coronavirus began to significantly affect its investments in March and would probably also greatly affect the conglomerate in the second quarter of the year.

“The duration and extent of the effects over longer terms cannot be reasonably estimated at this time,” the filing said.

Berkshire Hathaway still has a huge amount of liquidity. Shareholders’ equity on March 31 was worth $371.6 billion, the company said.

The conglomerate owns more than 90 companies and also has significant investments in businesses including Bank of America, American Express, Apple and Kraft Heinz.

At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, which took place online Saturday because of social distancing guidelines, Buffett said the company sold its entire equity position in the U.S. airline industry, valued in December at more than $4 billion.

He also said none of Berkshire Hathaway’s companies participated in the government’s bailout funds, according to journalist Ellen Chang.

12:04 a.m.
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Beaches become flashpoint of coastal states’ reopenings; California protesters defy governor’s closure

Access to beaches in coastal states has become a social and political flash point as the nation moves to reopen business and ease distancing restrictions.

Thousands gathered at beaches in California last weekend, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to close those in Orange County and cities to launch legal challenges that a judge denied. On Saturday afternoon, a group demanding to “Fully Open California” organized to cause traffic gridlock in Laguna Beach.

Protesters continued their rally on the sands in front of the ocean — and even entered the water, reportedly circumventing net barriers.

FOX 11 Los Angeles reporter Bill Melugin posted a Laguna Beach picture of a U-Haul truck draped with a poster comparing Newsom to Hitler, a sight that echoes other Nazi imagery marking protests against stay-at-home orders. “End His Tyranny,” the truck’s sign read.

Georgia and Alabama reopened or eased restrictions at beaches on Thursday, and more states have said they plan to reopen their beaches this weekend. How crowded those beaches get may determine future reopenings.

Texas’s statewide closure order doesn’t include its beaches, but an order from the Texas General Land Office went into effect on Friday outlining that coastal communities don’t have the power to open or close beaches.

In Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has repeatedly said it’s up to local officials to open or close beaches, several county commissions chose to grant beach access this week.

Though eager to restart their economies, public officials in coastal states are closely watching whether crowds swarm beaches.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said at a news conference Wednesday the state’s decision to grant beach access will be based partially on how people behave at newly reopened state parks this weekend.

Some remain skeptical of the efforts to reopen public outdoor spaces.

Daniel Uhlfelder, a Florida attorney, toured the state’s coast on Friday dressed as a scythe-wielding Grim Reaper to send a message that reopening beaches threatens lives. He has tried to sue DeSantis.

“I’m here today to try to make a point that it’s premature that we open our beaches,” a hooded and masked Uhlfelder said at a Walton County beach to local station ABC 13. A video of the interview has garnered more than 7.7 million views on Twitter.

11:48 p.m.
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In some states, local jurisdictions are defying governors’ stay-at-home orders

As public protests of stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns continue to break out around the country, some elected local leaders are flouting restrictions mandated by their governors.

Three California counties announced this week that they are reopening portions of their economies in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) statewide restrictions on nonessential business.

On Thursday, Modoc County, a jurisdiction of fewer than 10,000 residents in the northeast corner of the state, allowed restaurants and bars to open, though with some rules. The county has not reported any cases of the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, Sutter and Yuba counties — which are adjacent jurisdictions north of Sacramento — said they would begin lifting restrictions Monday on restaurants and several other types of businesses. Schools and churches will remain closed.

“COVID-19 is dangerous and scary but it is not the only health issue,” Phuong Luu, the health officer for the two counties, said in a written statement. “We cannot wait for a vaccine without seeing extreme economic damage done to our community. The consequences of waiting will be additional health concerns brought on by stress and the very real dilemma for those with limited resources.”

The combined population of the two counties is about 170,000.

In Colorado last week, Weld County said it would not get in the way of local businesses wanting to reopen, despite Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’s orders to remain closed.

“The governor’s been pretty clear all along that his orders are unenforceable,” Mike Freeman, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners, told KFKA-1310.

Businesses that reopen would have to adhere to social distancing rules and several other restrictions set by the county. Weld is the location of a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, the site of a recent coronavirus outbreak.

In North Carolina this week, Gaston County officials said they would allow businesses to reopen, defying Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s orders. Hours later, however, the county backed down and said residents must comply with state guidelines.

In New Mexico, Martin “Modey” Hicks, the mayor of 9,000-strong Grants, ordered city employees back to work and encouraged businesses to reopen. On Thursday, he was ordered by the state Supreme Court to comply with health guidelines, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

11:32 p.m.
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Pelosi, McConnell jointly decline Trump administration’s offer of rapid-response tests for Capitol Hill

In a rare joint statement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday they are “respectfully” declining the Trump administration’s offer to deploy rapid coronavirus testing capabilities on Capitol Hill.

The administration had said it was supplying the Senate with new rapid-results machines it uses on anyone who meets with Trump or Vice President Pence, after concerns were raised about inadequate testing with lawmakers returning to work Monday. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday that the Senate would receive 1,000 tests and three of the machines developed by Abbott Laboratories, which return results in 15 minutes.

But Pelosi and McConnell said Saturday that while Congress is “grateful for the Administration’s generous offer,” it “wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.”

“Consistent with CDC guidelines, Congress will use the current testing protocols that the Office of the Attending Physician has put in place until these speedier technologies become more widely available,” Pelosi and McConnell’s statement said.

Trump responded Saturday night with a tweet: “No reason to turn it down, except politics.”

“Maybe you need a new Doctor over there,” he wrote.

McConnell’s decision to call senators back to Washington while D.C. is still on lockdown has been controversial. Pelosi has refused to do the same.

Brian Monahan, the attending physician of Congress and the Supreme Court, had warned this week that tests were available only for lawmakers and staff who were sick and not for preemptive testing. It also had only the kind of testing that takes several days to return results.

11:11 p.m.
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Protesters march up to Nevada governor’s door as rallies against stay-at-home orders continue

As rallies against statewide restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus continued Saturday across the United States, a chanting crowd of protesters marched up to the door of the governor’s residence in Nevada, drawing police who stood with automatic weapons.

The #ReOpenNevada protests began at the state capitol and went on to the home of Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) in objection to his recent decision to extend the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15. Sisolak also announced a phased reopening in which retail businesses, cannabis dispensaries and houses of worship can conduct curbside pickup or drive-in services beginning May 1.

The easing of restrictions did not appear to dissuade conservative-leaning activists who have been defying social distancing mandates.

Dan Rodimer, a Republican seeking congressional office, led the march to the governor’s mansion, at one point shouting into a megaphone: “We need to reopen Nevada, everybody! This is how we do it.”

Other protests unfolded Saturday with similar scenes of waved American flags and pro-Trump gear. On a rainy day in Salem, Ore., a group of people stood under umbrellas and held signs outside the capitol building while health-care workers conducted a counterprotest. A rally at the New Hampshire statehouse drew roughly 350 to 400 people, according to local news reports.

The president has expressed sympathy for anti-shutdown movements, tweeting Friday in support of armed protesters who had stormed the Michigan Capitol, some with military-style rifles.

10:57 p.m.
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Boris Johnson reveals plans were made for how to announce his death

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arguably the world’s most famous coronavirus patient, said that his illness was so serious that plans were made for how to announce his death if he didn’t pull through.

Johnson has had a dizzying few weeks — including fighting for his life and celebrating the birth of a son. Speaking to the Sun on Sunday newspaper, the prime minister recalled that week in early April when he was taken to a hospital and given “liters and liters of oxygen.”

He said: “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario. I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.“

“The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong. They gave me a face mask so I got liters and liters of oxygen and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie,” he said.

In late March, Johnson’s office said that the prime minister had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had mild symptoms of covid-19. When his condition worsened, he was taken to St. Thomas’ Hospital in central London. Within 24 hours, he was moved to intensive care.

“The bloody indicators kept going in the wrong direction,” he told the Sun. “But the bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe.“

“That was when it got a bit … they were starting to think about how to handle it presentationally,” he added.

Now recovered, Johnson and his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, on Wednesday welcomed a baby son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. The name “Nicholas,” Symonds said, is a nod to the two doctors named Nick who helped to save Johnson’s life.

10:32 p.m.
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Trump replaces HHS watchdog who found ‘severe shortages’ at hospitals combating coronavirus

President Trump moved to replace the top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services after her office released a report on the shortages in testing and personal protective gear at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House nominated Jason Weida, an assistant United States attorney in Boston, to take the reins from Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who has run the office since January. Grimm’s removal follows a purge of high-profile federal officials and inspectors general whose work has been critical of the president.

Trump laced into Grimm at a news conference in April, after her staff report found “severe shortages” of testing kits, delays in getting coronavirus results and “widespread shortages” of masks and other equipment at U.S. hospitals.