Seven Bay Area counties issued “shelter in place” orders this week for 6.7 million residents in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The country’s first lockdown, in place until at least April 7, came after more than 290 people in the region tested positive. Residents must stay home as much as possible, but can run essential errands such as picking up prescriptions, getting gas, buying food, and checking on relatives. Outdoor exercise is allowed. The order carries the weight of law, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city is relying on voluntary compliance and doesn’t want people to feel like “prisoners in their homes.” Additional California counties joined the Bay Area later in the week. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that a lockdown for his 8.6 million constituents could be imminent, though New York’s governor has resisted the move, saying only the state had the power to impose such an order.
A pregnant 19-year-old died last week after falling from the top of an 18-foot border fence, the latest casualty of a surge of accidents at the border. Miriam Estefany Girón Luna, a Guatemalan social worker and former beauty queen, was 30 weeks pregnant when she fell while trying to scale the steel mesh fence with her partner. After several surgeries in El Paso, doctors could not save her or deliver the child via cesarean section. As the Trump administration installs fencing, some of it 30 feet high, along the border, smugglers have taken to having migrants climb up the steel fence, swing their legs around, then descend on a ladder. Immigration advocates say new restrictions have led migrants to attempt that dangerous route. Last month, U.S. agents detained 37,119 people at the border, the first increase in nine months.
An Amazon seller donated a stockpile of 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer this week after a New York Times article made him the face of coronavirus profiteering. Matt Colvin began hoarding sanitizer after the first U.S. coronavirus death was reported March 1. He and his brother, Noah, drove a U-Haul truck 1,300 miles across Tennessee and Kentucky, emptying shelves of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, mostly at “dollar stores in the backwoods.” Colvin, a former Air Force technical sergeant, also bought 2,000 “pandemic packs” that included face masks, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer, then resold them on eBay at a roughly $40 markup. He sold 300 hand sanitizer bottles for between $8 and $70 each before Amazon pulled his listings. Facing a potential price-gouging investigation, Colvin donated his inventory to people across Tennessee and Kentucky.
Miami Beach, Fla.
Andrew Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, said he’s leaving politics and entering rehab after he was found in a hotel room with a gay male escort suspected of overdosing on crystal meth. Police found Gillum vomiting and incoherent after an emergency call to the hotel room, where they also impounded three bags of drugs. He was in Miami Beach to officiate at a friend’s wedding but did not show up. Gillum, 40, lost the governor’s race by 32,000 votes, and was floated as a potential vice presidential candidate. After that defeat, he said, “I fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse.” Gillum was in the hotel room with Travis Dyson, 30, who reportedly calls himself a “porn-star performer” and gay male escort. Gillum, who denied using meth, has a wife and three kids and said Dyson is simply a friend.
Political death threat
A man was charged this week with threatening to kill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). FBI agents who confronted Robert Phelps, 62, at his home said he told them “he had a right to contact members of Congress and defend ‘his president.’” Phelps used the meeting request form on Schiff’s website to send the profanity-laced threat Nov. 12, the eve of the first public impeachment hearing. “I want to kill you with my bare hands and smash your sick little round fat lying face in,” he wrote. He listed his time preference as “Measure your coffin day,” prosecutors said. Phelps did not attempt to hide his identity, and was found through his email address. At least two other people have been charged with sending death threats to Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, who served as lead impeachment manager and draws frequent attacks from President Trump and Fox News. Phelps has a prior conviction for assault.
President Trump said on Twitter this week that he’s “strongly considering” a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. After months of speculation that Trump would pardon allies ensnared by the Russia probe, aides say he could make the move while the public is focused on the coronavirus, The New York Times reports. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and failing to disclose lobbying work for Turkey. Trump fired Flynn, a loyal campaign adviser, 24 days into his presidency after it was revealed that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador. Flynn tried to withdraw his guilty plea last year, and Attorney General William Barr ordered an unusual review last month of Flynn’s case. Prosecutors recommended Flynn serve up to six months in prison. ■