Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 6, 2020

Surgeon general warns this week could be toughest yet in pandemic, Boris Johnson is hospitalized with coronavirus, and more

1

Surgeon general warns coming week 'hardest and saddest' yet

The surgeon general, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, warned on Sunday that the coming week would be the "hardest and the saddest" for Americans as the coronavirus outbreak worsens. "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized, it's going to be happening all over the country," Adams said on Fox News Sunday. The number of deaths in the U.S. reached 9,648, with a total of 337,646 confirmed cases, although experts said the lack of early testing meant the real toll was probably higher. There were signs of hope, as new infections and deaths declined in New York, the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, and in European hot spots like Italy and Spain.

2

Boris Johnson hospitalized with coronavirus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital for tests on Sunday as he "continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus," a Downing Street spokeswoman said. "This is a precautionary step" on the advice of Johnson's doctor, the spokeswoman said. Johnson has remained in charge of the British government, working in isolation from his apartment at No. 11 Downing Street, next door to his offices. The Guardian reported last week that he was sicker than members of his government had publicly revealed, and that his doctors were concerned about his breathing difficulties. Downing Street denied his health had deteriorated significantly. In a rare speech, Queen Elizabeth II tried to rally Britons through the outbreak, saying, "better days will return."

3

AP: U.S. 'squandered' chance to bolster emergency PPE stockpile

The Trump administration "squandered" nearly two months of coronavirus preparation time by holding off on arranging purchases of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators, and other key equipment until mid-March, despite alarms in January about the potential for a deadly crisis, The Associated Press reported on Sunday. Purchasing contracts reviewed by the AP indicated that most federal agencies waited to place bulk orders for the supplies until several states were already treating thousands of people infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, and calling for the Trump administration to send equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile, which was created more than 20 years ago to augment normal supply chains in an emergency. The stockpile has largely been depleted as coronavirus cases surge.

4

Ousted Navy captain tests positive for coronavirus

Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing two Naval Academy classmates who remain close to him. Crozier was removed from the ship last week after he sent his superiors a scathing letter calling for "decisive action" to protect sailors' lives after an outbreak on board, and describing Navy failures to provide adequate resources to quarantine service members. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said he had lost confidence in Crozier's ability to command, saying the captain had sidestepped the chain of command and triggered unnecessary alarm about the ship's operational readiness. Video circulated Friday showed the ship's crew cheering Crozier as he disembarked.

5

Biden says Democrats might have to hold virtual convention

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that Democrats might have to have the party's first virtual presidential nominating convention this summer as part of the effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus. "We may have to do a virtual convention," Biden said on ABC's This Week. The party has already postponed the convention from July to August. "I think we should be thinking about that right now ... We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place." Biden, who is increasingly seen as the presumptive nominee, and his last remaining rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have been forced to suspend public campaigning due to concerns about the pandemic. More than a dozen states have postponed their primaries.

6

Pope Francis calls for serving others in livestreamed Palm Sunday Mass

Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass in a nearly empty St. Peter's Basilica, as precautions against the coronavirus kept the usual crowds away. Normally, a public outdoor service attracts tens of thousands of people. Only papal aides, and a small number of invited prelates, nuns, and laypeople were present, sitting alone in staggered pews, with a choir that also practiced social distancing. "The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less, to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others," Pope Francis said in his homily. The Mass was livestreamed for those who couldn't attend.

7

Wildfires boost radiation levels near Chernobyl

Ukrainian firefighters battled two wildfires on Sunday and Monday near the Chernobyl nuclear power station, which was evacuated during the Soviet era after a 1986 nuclear-reactor explosion. Radiation levels at blazes, which covered dozens of acres in the 1,000-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, rose to 16 times above normal, said the head of the state ecological inspection service, Yehor Firsov. The zone has been unpopulated, except for about 200 people who refuse to leave, since the disaster at the plant produced a cloud of radioactive fallout that drifted over Europe. Fires in the forests around the shuttered plant have been common. Radiation levels in the capital, Kyiv, remained within the normal range.

8

Mass grave found in Rwanda as genocide anniversary nears

Authorities in Rwanda said Sunday that a mass grave containing as many as 30,000 bodies had been discovered in a valley dam as the country prepares for the 26th anniversary of the East African nation's genocide. About 50 bodies have been exhumed so far. The dam was built to help irrigate rice fields years before the genocide, in which 800,000 ethnic Tutsis, and some Hutus who tried to protect them, were killed. "The challenge we face now is that the valley dam contains water, but we are trying to dry it up," said Naphtal Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of genocide survivor organization Ibuka. Public gatherings are banned in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, so most of the country will only be able to see events marking the anniversary on TV.

9

Boeing extends suspension of production in Washington state

Boeing said Sunday it would extend indefinitely the suspension of production at its Washington state factories due to the coronavirus outbreak. The facilities had been due to resume work this week. While operations are halted, the largest U.S. aircraft maker will implement additional health and safety measures, including "new visual cues to encourage physical distancing," and more frequent cleaning of work and common areas. Boeing will stop paying about 30,000 production workers in the state. About 135 people in Boeing's global workforce of about 160,000 have tested positive, including 95 in Washington state. Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, airlines around the world have halted new orders, compounding Boeing's troubles due to the grounding of its once-popular 737 Max jets after two fatal crashes.

10

Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for COVID-19

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. She is the first of her kind to test positive for the virus, CNN reports. In a statement released Sunday, the Bronx Zoo said Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions recently developed dry coughs, but no other animals are showing symptoms of COVID-19. The cats have all "experienced some decrease in appetite," but otherwise are "doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers." All are expected to make full recoveries. The zoo also said the cats were "infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms."

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