April 13 coronavirus news
Asked Monday whether China should “pay for the damage done” by the novel coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed any immediate punitive action against Beijing and stressed the need for global cooperation to prevent a recurrence of the pandemic.
He also said “there’ll be a time for recriminations” in the future. He did not specifically say that those recriminations would be aimed at China.
“There’ll be a time to make sure that we all understand what happened and that those who are responsible are held accountable for that,” Pompeo said in an interview with German BILD-TV on Monday. “I’m very confident that that process will take place.”
Pompeo said the administration was focused on “looking forward,” noting “we’re trying to find our path to making sure that we reduce risk as we move forward in the days and weeks and months ahead.”
“For the moment, I think it’s absolutely essential that we focus on the task ahead of us, getting systems in place such that we can reopen the American economy, and ultimately the global economy as well. There’ll be a time for recriminations,” he said.
Pompeo said there needed to be “more than a global debate” about whether the Chinese government should be held accountable for the pandemic.
“It’s important to understand how this began, where this began, where it originated, and that’s science,” he said. “We’ve seen these stories about Chinese wet markets, we’ve seen stories about precisely where this virus originated, and it’s important that the whole world gets this.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" the Trump administration would need to "do a 180" if it wants to reopen businesses in the country.
“The first phase was the federal government punting to the states," he said. "If the federal government now wants to do a 180 and say we’ll take responsibility, just tell me how."
He continued: “They would have to not just proclaim, they would have to say this is how we're going to do it which we have not heard to date."
Cuomo, who has been dealing with the the largest outbreak of coronavirus in the United States in his home state, said most of the responsibility for buying personal protective equipment and ventilators has been left to the states.
“I’m not going to say I don’t want help from the federal government, I do,” he added. “The more the federal government can do, the less I have to do, God bless — but then the federal government has to do it.”
The Pentagon announced a major contract for 60 decontamination units that will allow millions of N95 masks to be reused as the critical masks continue to be sought after by medical professionals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The $415 million contract will allow for the acquisition of “60 Battelle Memorial Institute Critical Care Decontamination Systems (CCDS), that can decontaminate up to 80,000 used N95 respirators per system per day, enabling mask reuse up to 20 times,” according to a statement from the Pentagon.
The Defense Department said six units have already been delivered to multiple US cities including two to New York, and one each to Columbus, Ohio, Boston, Chicago and Tacoma, “providing the ability to sterilize 3.4 million masks a week, reducing the need for new masks by the same number.”
“All 60 systems will be available by early May for prioritization and distribution by FEMA and HHS. Once all are delivered, these 60 units will allow 4.8 million masks to be sterilized per day, almost 34 million per week,” the statement added.
The location of where the remaining units will be delivered has yet to be determined.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley will stay closed for "as long as it takes" after dozens of employees have contracted novel coronavirus.
Polis said he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about the issue.
"I spoke with the president three times over the weekend with the goal of the minimum disruption to our national food supply," he said. "We also want to protect workers and staff ... The vice president said they are giving us tests and personal protection equipment for that facility because of its importance," the governor said.
JBS is speaking with its employees about quarantine and testing to ensure that they can reopen as soon as possible, Polis said.
The governor said he prioritized the Colorado National Guard to provide logistical support for testing so that they can safely start up again.
There will be an aggressive testing and containment strategy so they can continue as soon as possible, he said.
Washington state’s Department of Corrections says they are likely to release “approximately 600-950 incarcerated individuals beginning in the coming days” in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"The goal in releasing individuals from state correctional facilities is to provide more physical distancing within the state’s correctional facilities," the Department of Corrections said in a statement.
The new details come in a report ordered by the state Supreme Court after five inmates filed a lawsuit which said being in close quarters with other prisoners was endangering their health.
Seven minimum security inmates at the Monroe Correction Complex tested positive for Covid-19, sparking a brief cellblock riot last week.
In a 153-page response filed today, the state says they will focus on furloughing non-violent inmates who are on work release or already due to be released within 75 days, as well as certain medically vulnerable prisoners who are scheduled to get out within the next eight months.
In some cases, the furloughed inmates may be required to submit to home monitoring for the remainder of their sentences.
The statement said the Department has developed and had been implementing new protocols and directives specifically aimed at combatting the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of March — including supplying face coverings to all inmates and quarantining those with coronavirus symptoms, but the high court said those actions alone were not sufficient.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters Monday President Trump and his team are “always asking the governors, what their priorities are and how we’re thinking about getting things reopened.”
“So I don't really think they're going to try and mandate a one size fits all, as it was referred to previously, for all 50 states," he said. "We’re in very different situations and we're all going to address the slow reopening of our states in a thoughtful way, each state being a little bit different."
Lamont said a "Reopen Connecticut Advisory Board" will be created, which will include Dr. Albert Ko, Yale’s leading epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, along with other experts from business and science, with a focus on health outcomes, analytics, clinical lab work, and mobile technology.
The United States is turning to South Korea — a country with an aggressive testing regime that the President Trump previously downplayed — to bring approximately 750,000 more coronavirus tests to the US, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, awarded contracts to manufacturers in South Korea last week to provide approximately 750,000 tests, according to a FEMA spokesperson and federal records. Over the weekend, the first shipment of 150,000 tests were delivered to the US by SolGent. The next shipment of 600,000 tests will arrive on April 15. They are being provided by two South Korea-based companies, SD Biosensor and Osang Healthcare.
The intent, the FEMA spokesperson said, is to move the tests to a cold storage facility in Louisville, Kentucky, for distribution. Urgent needs will be given priority, according to a FEMA advisory obtained by CNN.
The Trump administration has waffled on its praise of South Korea’s testing capabilities. Trump acknowledged on Twitter in late March that South Korea has been very successful regarding testing. By April, Trump claimed that US tests are faster and more accurate than South Korea's. But facing a testing shortage and governors desperate to bolster their testing capability, the US has had to look abroad.
Federal law enforcement has disrupted a foreign criminal scheme to fraudulently sell 39 million N95 respirator masks to US health care workers, a Justice Department official said in an interview with CNN.
Scott Brady, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, tells CNN that the Justice Department has launched an investigation into two foreign entities suspected of trying to defraud US health care companies out of millions of dollars as they work to respond to the growing number of coronavirus patients.
In the past month, one group of scammers attempted to bilk US health care companies by offering the sale of N95 masks and demanding upfront payment of 40% of the total bulk purchase price of $3.50 per mask.
Part of the ruse involved convincing buyers that some of the masks were already located in the United States and ready for immediate delivery, however, officials believe these representations were fraudulent and no masks actually existed. Brady said the fraud was disrupted before any funds were transferred.
The federal investigation was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The scam was discovered after the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU), a union representing California health care workers on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, publicly announced last month it had located 39 million critically-need N95 masks from a supplier, and would be connecting local governments and hospital officials seeking to purchase masks for their employees.
Brady told CNN the supplier was identified as a man in Pennsylvania, who claimed he was merely a middleman working with two foreign companies — a broker in Australia and a supplier in Kuwait — which are now both under federal investigation. The Pennsylvania supplier is cooperating with law enforcement and is not believed to have been knowingly involved in criminal activity. Brady noted SEIU and 3M — the maker of N95 masks — have also assisted authorities.
N95 masks are currently among the most sought-after and scarce pieces of personal protective equipment for health care workers treating the thousands of US victims of coronavirus.
“The health care systems and first responders are so desperate they’re willing to pay whatever it takes to keep their personnel safe,” Brady noted.
For those contemplating profiting from scams during the pandemic, Brady offered a stark warning.
“The Department of Justice has a long memory,” he said. “If you have victimized and defrauded people, especially in the time of a national crisis, be sure that at some point in the near future, someone will be knocking on your door.”
Jacqueline Towns, the mother of NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns, died Monday due to complications as a result of Covid-19, according to a statement from a family spokesperson released by Towns' team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Towns made his mother's struggle with Covid-19 public via an emotional social media video on March 25 in which he said his mother had been put on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.
Prior to that public announcement, Karl-Anthony Towns made a $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic to assist in its effort fo combat coronavirus.