Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 7, 2020

Harold Maass
Boris Johnson in London
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


U.S. coronavirus deaths reach 10,000

The U.S. coronavirus death toll reached 10,000 on Monday, hitting 10,993 as Trump administration officials warned the nation was heading into what will be a painful week. The total number of cases in the United States rose to 368,449. New York remained the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the state could be seeing a "flattening of the curve" as the daily death count remained below Saturday's figure for the second straight day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that with hundreds still dying every day the city might have to hold temporary burials in a park for some victims as funeral homes are overwhelmed, then remove them to be buried elsewhere after the crisis ends. [The Washington Post]


Boris Johnson transferred to intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care on Monday as his COVID-19 symptoms worsened significantly after he was admitted to a London hospital for tests. Johnson was diagnosed 10 days ago, becoming the first world leader to test positive for the novel coronavirus. Johnson's spokesman, James Slack, said "the PM remains in charge of the government." Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated as his replacement if he becomes incapacitated. "The government's business will continue," Raab said. Johnson's rapid decline took the nation by surprise, as it came hours after he tweeted thanks to the National Health Service and said he was in good spirits. [The Associated Press, BBC News]


Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns attempt to delay primary

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled Gov. Tony Evers' (D) last-minute order to stop in-person voting ahead of the state's Tuesday Democratic presidential primary and local and state elections due to the coronavirus pandemic. Evers had called for pushing the balloting back to June 9, saying in-person balloting would endanger voters and poll workers, but the state's highest court sided with Republicans, who control the state legislature and challenged Evers' order. Evers also wanted to reopen the period for requesting absentee ballots, which ended Friday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday night that Wisconsin voters must hand-deliver their absentee ballots by Tuesday evening or have them postmarked April 7, overruling a lower court that had extended absentee voting for six days. [CNN, Politico]


Trump agrees to let hospital ship treat coronavirus patients

President Trump on Monday agreed to allow treatment of coronavirus patients on the Navy hospital ship Comfort, which is docked in New York City. The 1,000-bed ship was sent to the city to help ease the burden of local hospitals overwhelmed with people infected with COVID-19, but it was supposed to treat patients seeking other types of care. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), however, asked Trump to make the change. "We don't need the Comfort for non-COVID cases, we need it for COVID," Cuomo said Monday when he announced the agreement with Trump. COVID-19 patients will be examined at area hospitals before being transferred to the Comfort. As of Saturday, the Comfort had seen only 27 patients. [CNBC]


U.S. labels white supremacist group a terrorist organization

The U.S. government has for the first time designated a white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department on Monday assigned the label to the Russian Imperial Movement. It also named three of the group's leaders as terrorists. "This illustrates how seriously this administration takes the white supremacist terrorist threat," said the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, Nathan Sales. The Russian Imperial Movement's leaders were hit with sanctions on Monday, and the move made it illegal for Americans to conduct transactions with the group. The relatively small group reportedly offers paramilitary training to neo-Nazis and white supremacists in St. Petersburg, Russia. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Navy secretary calls ousted commander 'naive' or 'stupid,' then apologizes

The acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, told sailors on Monday that Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who was ousted for criticizing his superiors for not reacting adequately to curb a coronavirus outbreak on board, was either "too naive or too stupid to command a ship." Later Monday, Modly apologized for the remark, saying he didn't think Crozier was "naive nor stupid," but "that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain." Modly relieved Crozier of his command, saying he had exercised "poor judgment" by distributing the scathing email to his superiors. Last week, a widely circulated video showed the crew cheering Crozier when he left the ship. [The Washington Post, CNBC]


Domestic abuse calls increase under coronavirus lockdowns

Domestic abuse hotlines around the world have received a surge in calls since stay-at-home orders have been imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. A spokesperson for the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline told Forbes on Monday that it had received 2,345 calls since mid-March from people citing the coronavirus as a factor in their abuse. The U.K.'s largest domestic abuse charity said Monday that calls to its helpline had increased by 25 percent since lockdowns were put into place. The United Nations on Sunday urged governments around the world to fight the rise in domestic violence. "I urge all governments to put women's safety first as they respond to the pandemic," Secretary General António Guterres tweeted. [Forbes, The New York Times]


U.S. stocks surge as coronavirus spread slows in hot spots

U.S. stocks soared on Monday as the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the country appeared to slow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 7.7 percent, the S&P 500 rose by 7 percent, and the Nasdaq rose by 7.3 percent. There were 33,260 new cases on Saturday, and just 28,200 on Sunday, according to the data from Johns Hopkins. Death rates slowed in Europe, reinforcing hopes that the pandemic, which has forced business closures that have ravaged the economy, could be nearing its peak. U.S. stock index futures pointed to further gains at Tuesday's open. [CNBC]


Australian court overturns Cardinal George Pell's abuse convictions

Australia's High Court on Monday overturned the convictions of Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic leader ever found guilty of sexually abusing children. Pell was found guilty in 2018 of molesting two choirboys in 1996, when he was archbishop of Melbourne, and sentenced to six years in prison. Australia's high court on Tuesday overturned his convictions after finding the jury "ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offenses for which he was convicted." Pell, who once served as an adviser to Pope Francis and was the Vatican's chief financial officer, has spent the last 13 months in prison. [NBC News]


Body of Kennedy family member recovered

Maryland authorities said Monday they had found the body of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, daughter of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, after a four-day search. McKean, executive director of Georgetown University's Global Health Initiative, was found in 25 feet of water more than two miles from her mother's residence in Anne Arundel County. McKean, 40, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, went missing on Friday after setting out in a canoe to get a ball one of them had kicked into the water, and were pushed out into Chesapeake Bay by winds or currents. The overturned canoe was found that night. Police said they would continue the search for Gideon McKean on Tuesday. [The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times]