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The recorded global death toll for COVID-19 neared 100,000 on Friday afternoon, with confirmed worldwide cases at more than 1.6 million. The numbers reflect an alarming jump since April 2, a little more than a week ago, when global deaths were still around 50,000, NPR reports.

Italy has the highest number of deaths of any country in the world, with over 18,000, followed by the United States, which has more than 16,500, and Spain, with more than 15,800. New York remains the center of the U.S. outbreak, and on Friday Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the state had recorded its highest single-day death toll yet, at 779. "That is so shocking and painful and breathtaking, I don't even have the words for it," he said. Jeva Lange

April 9, 2020

Senators will either have to return to Washington or get negotiating to get the next round of coronavirus relief funding flowing.

With just four senators in the chamber on Thursday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) blocked a unanimous voice vote in favor of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's $250 billion small business loans bill. Cardin called the bill a "political stunt," and reiterated congressional Democrats' demands for greater accountability and diversity in how the bill would be spent.

Cardin's opposition didn't come as a surprise, seeing as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled Democrats' demands for the bill on Wednesday. They'd like to see that $250 billion doubled, with an extra $100 billion going to hospitals, community health centers, and health systems; $150 billion for state and local governments; and an additional 15 percent support added to SNAP food stamp benefits. They also demanded that half of the small business loans "serve farmers, family, women, and minority and veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofits in rural, tribal, suburban, and urban communities."

Senators have largely scattered back to their home states amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a provision for remote voting, any actions Congress wants to take have to be done without opposition. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 8, 2020

Linda Tripp, the former White House aide who played a major role in former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, died Wednesday at age 70, her son and lawyer confirmed.

Tripp recorded then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky admitting to an affair with Clinton, and eventually shared those recordings with and testified to independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Details of Tripp's death were not yet made public, but she had been treated for breast cancer in the past.

Lewinsky tweeted earlier Wednesday, upon hearing Tripp was ill, "no matter the past ... I hope for her recovery. I can't imagine how difficult this is for her family." Kathryn Krawczyk

April 7, 2020

New York City has hit a devastating milestone in its COVID-19 fight, but things may finally be turning around.

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) reported that 727 people had died of the new coronavirus in the past day in New York City, bringing the official death toll in the city to 3,202. That's the highest one-day death toll the city has seen yet, and brings the total beyond the number of people who died in New York City during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

New York remains the hardest hit state by the coronavirus, with 138,836 confirmed cases and 5,489 deaths so far, Cuomo announced Tuesday. That death toll could easily be higher seeing as people are dying at home at an unprecedented rate, but cannot be counted in coronavirus death tolls because they hadn't been tested.

Still, Cuomo offered some signs of hope in his Tuesday press conference. ICU admittance numbers are dramatically down across the state, from 395 people admitted on Friday to 89 on Monday.

New hospitalizations were up on Monday, but the average of new hospitalizations over the past three days was also down, suggesting the epicenter state is finally near a plateau, Cuomo said. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 2, 2020

The United States Navy has removed the captain of an aircraft carrier who sounded the alarm over a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship, NBC News and Axios report. Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the USS Theodore Roosevelt, had sent a stern four-page letter to his superiors on Monday begging for help containing the outbreak, in which some 150 to 200 sailors had reportedly tested positive out of his nearly 5,000-person crew.

Crozier's letter leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, and expressed fears that the Theodore Roosevelt was unable to follow quarantine social distancing guidelines when it was forced to dock in Guam. "This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do," Crozier had written. "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors."

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly reportedly relieved Crozier of duty over "a loss of trust and confidence." The Washington Post adds that the Navy specifically removed him due to "becoming increasingly convinced that he was involved in leaking the letter to the media to force the service to address his concerns."

Crozier will reportedly keep his rank and remain in the Navy after being relieved of his duty. Jeva Lange

April 2, 2020

A train engineer working at the Port of Los Angeles has been charged with stealing a locomotive and intentionally derailing it in an attempt to hit the USNS Mercy.

The Mercy arrived in Los Angeles last week to provide an additional 1,000 hospital beds to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Eduardo Moreno, an engineer at the port, told authorities he found the boat "suspicious" and drove a train toward the ship because "people don't know what's going on here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Moreno steered the cargo train through barriers designed to stop its engine and a few fences, according to a court filing. The train still ground to a halt about 250 yards away from the Mercy, CNN reports. No one was injured in the crash, but it did cause a diesel fuel leak, which firefighters and hazmat crews quickly cleaned up.

Moreno tried to flee the scene after the crash, but was quickly apprehended, a court filing says. He allegedly took a video from inside the train, which shows him lighting a flare as he drove the train through the barriers. Moreno could end up in jail for up to 20 years upon conviction, per the Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 2, 2020

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration significantly rolled back restrictions on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men, citing an "urgent need for blood" caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The FDA's decision marks a dramatic shift from federal rules that have been in place since 1983, the height of the AIDS crisis, when the government ordered a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, NBC News reports. Those rules were slightly loosened in 2015, when it was changed to a year-long abstinence requirement. On Thursday, the FDA shortened the window of abstinence even further, to three months.

Peter Marks, the director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the announcement that "[blood] donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives" since the outbreak began, and that "the FDA has concluded that current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply."

Activists, though, have long criticized restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood, BuzzFeed News notes, calling the rules scientifically unfounded and biased. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday that "these changes are based on the best science that we have today regarding the time that it takes to test positive for HIV" and that he encouraged all people to "do the right thing: donate blood." Jeva Lange

March 15, 2020

The Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to near zero on Sunday as part of an extended and ongoing emergency response to the economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, The New York Times reports. In addition to dropping the benchmark interest rate to a range of 0 to 0.25 percent, the Fed announced it will buy at least $500 billion in Treasury securities and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities "over coming months."

"This better work because I don't know what they have left and no amount of money raining from the sky will cure this virus," said Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, as reported by CNBC. "Only time and medicine will."

Speaking at a news conference Sunday evening, Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell acknowledged that "the virus presents significant economic challenges" as workers are forced to quarantine themselves to mitigate the spread of disease. President Trump congratulated the Fed on the move, adding "people in the market should be very thrilled."

That remains to be seen. The decision comes after a historically tumultuous week: "After peaking at an all-time high of 29,551.42 on February 12, the Dow Jones Industrial Average began falling as panic and economic disruption from the coronavirus outbreak spread across the globe," writes The Week's Jeff Spross. "On Wednesday, the Dow's plunge closed just over 20 percent below its February peak, crossing the magic threshold of bear market territory, and ending what is widely considered the longest bull market run in history."

While the end of the week saw a brief rebound, U.S. stock futures had dropped 5 percent Sunday despite the Fed's efforts, hitting the limits for trading. Jeva Lange

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