Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 1, 2020

Harold Maass
Trump in a press briefing
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images


Coronavirus deaths jump as outbreak intensifies in U.S.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll has jumped above 4,000, surpassing that of China, the first country hit in the pandemic. For the first time, more than 700 people died in the United States in one day, according to data reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post. The total number of infections in the country reached nearly 190,000, with more than 800,000 cases worldwide. President Trump urged Americans to diligently practice social distancing, and warned that the crisis will worsen. "This is going to be a very painful — very, very painful — two weeks," he said. The White House says that even with successful isolation and distancing nationwide 100,000 to 240,000 people could die of COVID-19 in the U.S. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]


New York governor's brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, tests positive for COVID-19

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, is infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Chris Cuomo said he was exposed to people recently who later tested positive. "I had fever, chills, and shortness of breath," Cuomo wrote in a note posted to Twitter. "I just hope I didn't give it to the kids and Cristina [his wife]." Gov. Cuomo said his brother "is going to be fine. He is young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks — but he will be fine." The governor, whose state is the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., said the disaster "is ongoing and the duration itself is debilitating and exhausting and depressing." New York is the deadliest hot spot in the U.S., with about 1,550 deaths statewide, more than 1,000 of them in New York City. [The Associated Press, Time]


Pompeo offers sanctions relief if Venezuelan leaders share power

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the Trump administration would lift sanctions on Venezuela if embattled President Nicolás Maduro agrees to step aside and let a power-sharing transitional government take over. The U.S. has backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the South American nation's rightful leader after Maduro claimed re-election in a disputed vote. "The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the man-made crisis in Venezuela," Pompeo said as he unveiled the plan. "The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime's failure to adequately prepare for and address the global COVID-19 pandemic." Maduro's government promptly rejected the U.S. proposal, which calls for lifting sanctions after a transitional period ends in free elections. [BBC News, CNN]


USS Theodore Roosevelt captain calls for help as coronavirus hits sailors

The captain of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt called on Navy leaders for "decisive action" to provide isolation facilities and medical care needed by his sailors after a coronavirus outbreak on board, U.S. officials confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday. "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die," Captain Brett Crozier, the ship's commanding officer, wrote in a Monday letter to Navy leadership. "If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors." Crozier called for removing 4,000 of the 5,000 service members on the vessel, and isolating them. He said the ship lacked sufficient quarantine facilities. The Navy reported the first coronavirus case on the ship a week ago while the vessel was in the Pacific. As many as 80 reportedly have tested positive. [Reuters]


Stocks post worst 1st quarter since 2008 financial crisis

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, capping their worst first quarter since the 2008 financial crisis as the financial destruction of the coronavirus pandemic ravaged markets worldwide. The S&P 500 finished the first three months of the year down by 20 percent — its worst first quarter ever. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down by 23 percent since the first of the year, its worst quarterly decline since 1987. The losses were just as bad overseas. The Stoxx Europe 600 had its biggest quarterly drop since 2002, and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell to 2008 levels. Analysts are hoping for a quick recovery once the pandemic is under control. Shawn Snyder, the head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management, said "we're really in unprecedented territory." [Reuters, The Wall Street Journal]


U.N. calls for coronavirus response totaling 10 percent of global GDP

António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, on Wednesday called the coronavirus pandemic "an unprecedented test" for the world. "COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations" in 1945, Guterres said as the U.N. released a report on the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. The report says world leaders must mount a coordinated international response totaling at least 10 percent of global GDP to boost health-care spending and support people suffering financially under lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the virus. Guterres said developed countries must assist those less developed. "Otherwise we face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global South," he said. [The New York Times]


Appeals court blocks Florida governor's effort to limit felon voting

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected an effort by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow Republicans to limit the reach of a ballot measure restoring the right to vote for felons who have completed their sentences. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure, Amendment 4, in 2018, but the next year the state's Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill, which DeSantis signed, saying that felons have to pay restitution and any fines they face before their sentences are considered fully served. A federal judge in October blocked the state from enforcing some parts of the law pending a challenge, saying the state couldn't enforce the law if felons are "genuinely unable" to pay. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit upheld the ruling in February, and the full court let that decision stand. [Sun-Sentinel, The Washington Post]


New York mayor orders investigation of Amazon's firing of protest organizer

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the city would investigate Amazon's firing of an employee who organized a walkout to demand greater protections against coronavirus for warehouse workers. About 15 workers participated in the walkout at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, after reports that employees at the facility had tested positive for coronavirus. "The allegation is because he spoke up for the safety of his fellow workers he was fired," de Blasio said. "If so, that would be a violation of our city human rights law. We would act on it immediately." Amazon said it fired the worker, Christian Smalls, because he put others at risk. [Reuters]


Researchers record 1st-ever heat wave in East Antarctica

East Antarctica — an area that previously seemed to be spared from climate warming — experienced its first recorded heat wave in January, according to newly published research. The heat wave was recorded at the Casey Research Station between Jan. 23 and 26, marking the area's highest temperature ever at 48.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while minimum temperatures stayed above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, Denman Glacier — a large glacier in East Antarctica — appears to be rapidly retreating. Its position above the world's deepest known canyon may be causing it to melt faster than it can recover. As the glacier retreats, warm water fills the canyon, which could cause a feedback loop that returns all of the glacier's ice to the ocean, leading to about 5 feet of global sea level rise. [Live Science]


Cruise ship heads to Florida with coronavirus plan still unresolved

The cruise ship Zaandam continued to head toward Florida on Tuesday with four passengers dead and two needing immediate medical attention as authorities in Broward County said owner Carnival Corp. had not adequately addressed concerns about coronavirus. The U.S. Coast Guard said the ship and an accompanying sister vessel would not be allowed to enter U.S. waters without "a complete plan for self-support of the medical issues occurring on board the vessels." Two of the people who died had COVID-19, and nine on board have tested positive. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has said he does not want passengers to disembark in Florida because the state "cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources." [The Washington Post]