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Suspected SARS virus and flu samples found in luggage: FBI report describes China's 'biosecurity risk'An FBI report about China’s involvement with scientific research in the U.S. has raised alarms. While the report refers broadly to foreign researchers, all three cases cited involve Chinese nationals.


3/30/2020 9:45:26 AM

Trump now says if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done 'a very good job'The president repeatedly cited a projection that as many as 2.2 million people would have died if the administration had “done nothing” to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.


3/30/2020 10:33:53 AM

IG Horowitz Found ‘Apparent Errors or Inadequately Supported Facts’ in Every Single FBI FISA Application He ReviewedThe Justice Department inspector general said it does “not have confidence” in the FBI’s FISA application process following an audit that found the Bureau was not sufficiently transparent with the court in 29 applications from 2014 to 2019, all of which included “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.”Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in December which found that the FBI included “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications and many errors in the Woods Procedures” during its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign. After releasing the report, Horowitz said that he would conduct a further investigation to see if the errors identified in the Page application were widespread.“The concern is that this is such a high-profile, important case. If it happened here, is this indicative of a wider problem — and we will only know that when we complete our audit — or is it isolated to this event?” Horowitz told lawmakers during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. “Obviously, we need to do the work to understand that.”Horowitz’s office said in a report released Tuesday that of the 29 applications — all of which involved U.S. citizens – that were pulled from “8 FBI field offices of varying sizes,” the FBI could not find Woods Files for four of the applications, while the other 25 all had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.”"While our review of these issues and follow-up with case agents is still ongoing—and we have not made materiality judgments for these or other errors or concerns we identified—at this time we have identified an average of about 20 issues per application reviewed, with a high of approximately 65 issues in one application and less than 5 issues in another application," the report reveals.The Woods Procedure dictates that the Justice Department verify the accuracy and provide evidentiary support for all facts stated in its FISA application. The FBI is required to share with the FISA Court all relevant information compiled in the Woods File when applying for a surveillance warrant.“FBI and NSD officials we interviewed indicated to us that there were no efforts by the FBI to use existing FBI and NSD oversight mechanisms to perform comprehensive, strategic assessments of the efficacy of the Woods Procedures or FISA accuracy, to include identifying the need for enhancements to training and improvements in the process, or increased accountability measures,” the report states.The OIG concludes by recommending that the FBI "systematically and regularly examine the results of past and future accuracy reviews to identify patterns or trends in identified errors" relating to the Woods Procedure, as well as double-checking "that Woods Files exist for every FISA application submitted to the FISC in all pending investigations."In a letter acknowledging the audit, FBI Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate said that the issues "will be addressed" by the Bureau's already-issued correctives after the Carter Page review, and added that "the FBI fully accepts the two recommendations."President Trump has relentlessly attacked the FBI's FISA process and the abuses it allowed during the surveilling of his 2016 campaign. He has argued that the FISA abuses invalidate the entire investigation, which he has referred to as an “illegal attempted coup,” and slammed the officials involved, including former FBI director James Comey and former acting FBI director Andy McCabe.McCabe admitted in January that the FBI has an “inherent weakness in the process” of obtaining FISA warrants.


3/31/2020 10:13:29 AM

Cuomo Says Coronavirus Is ‘More Dangerous’ Than We Thought as N.Y. Cases Jump OvernightNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday acknowledged that the coronavirus is “more dangerous” than officials initially thought after more than 300 died across the state overnight.“I’m tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one,” Cuomo said at a Tuesday press conference in Albany. “We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.” More than 1,500 people have died and 75,795 more have been infected with the virus in New York State, accounting for a 14 percent increase in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said. About 43,139 of those cases are in New York City, where the daily number of newly infected patients has fortunately dipped below 6,000 across the five boroughs over the last 24 hours.To date, more than 3,416 people have died and 174,467 individuals have been infected with the virus nationwide—a death toll that has eclipsed China’s official count.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Implements ‘Stay at Home’ Order Amid Coronavirus PandemicCuomo said it could be weeks before New York sees the worst of the pandemic, stating that the apex may not be for 21 days. “We’re all anxious, we’re all tired, we’re all fatigued. It’s been all bad news for a long time. Our whole lifestyle has been disrupted. Everybody wants to know one thing, when will it end. Nobody knows,” Cuomo said. “We’re dealing with a war we’ve never dealt with before. We need a totally different mindset and organizational transformation.”  New York City’s hospitals have been struggling over the last week to keep up with the influx of patients. With over 10,900 residents hospitalized with the virus, including 2,700 patients in ICUs, Cuomo said that the health-care system still needs more supplies, space, and personnel. The state has ordered 17,000 ventilators from China to help hospitals, paying about $25,000 per machine.“It’s like being on Ebay with 50 other states bidding on a ventilator. How inefficient,” Cuomo said, noting that he only expects to receive about 2,500 machines from China because other states, the federal government, and Italy have also placed orders from the foreign government. “And then FEMA gets involved and FEMA starts bidding. And now FEMA is bidding on top of the 50. So FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does this make?” Cuomo asked.‘This Is a War’: Cuomo Pleads for Help From Doctors Across U.S. as Coronavirus Death Toll SurgesTo further combat the shortage, Cuomo reiterated his Monday plea to health-care workers across the United States for help with the increasing number of infected patients, promising the Empire State would return the favor whenever it’s over the “bell curve.” The governor said that while the state is working to get ahead of the virus, several projections indicate the “main battle at the apex” will occur anywhere between one week and 21 days from now. “We’re still going up the mountain," Cuomo said, adding that New York is struggling to curtail the surge and “you don’t win by playing catch up.”  “The main battle is at the top of the mountain, the apex of the curve.”New York City Police Commissioner Dermont Shea also said Tuesday that the virus has greatly impacted the city’s law enforcement, as approximately 15 percent of the 37,000-member force has called out sick. NYC Is on the Brink as Patients Flood Hospitals Already ‘Under Siege’“We have the reserves, we have the contingency plans,” Shea said, stating that while about 5,500 officers are out sick, the NYPD is not extending shifts. He added that 17 NYPD members who tested positive for COVID-19 have since recovered.Seeming to take a jab at President Trump’s failed prediction that the United States would be able to return to normal life by April 21, Cuomo later emphasized that it is unclear when things in his state will return to normal.“It is not going to be soon,” he said, urging residents to stay home and stressing there will not be “an Easter surprise.” “So calibrate yourself and your expectations, so you’re not disappointed every morning you get up.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


3/31/2020 12:04:37 PM

Boy, 5, found dead near hiking trail after mother said they got lostAfter spending the night outdoors, the boy's mother left him to seek help on her own, authorities said.


3/31/2020 9:24:12 AM

Doctor recommended no action for U.S.' Pelosi after coronavirus contactThe U.S. Congress' attending physician recommended U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi take no particular action after she was in contact with Representative Nydia Velazquez, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus infection, Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill said on Monday. The physician found Pelosi's contact with Velazquez to have been of "low risk," Hammill said. Velazquez, a Democrat from New York, announced in a statement earlier on Monday that she had been diagnosed with a presumed case of coronavirus, although she had not been tested, after developing symptoms of the ailment on Sunday.


3/30/2020 4:39:17 PM

COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positiveMore than 300 New Yorkers died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a somber-sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday as temporary hospital beds were made available to help relieve the stress on city hospitals inundated with virus patients. City officials announced Tuesday that 250 more ambulances and 500 paramedics and EMTs are headed to New York to help manage record numbers of calls for assistance. Deaths from the coronavirus continued to climb steeply in New York, topping 1,500 by Tuesday, according to Cuomo.


3/31/2020 7:07:49 AM

Venezuela prosecutor's office summoned Guaido for 'attempted coup'State prosecutors in Venezuela have summoned opposition leader Juan Guaido for an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and attempted assassination, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Tuesday. In a statement broadcast on state television, Saab said Guaido had been summoned to appear before prosecutors next Thursday following an investigation last week into the seizure of a weapons cache in neighboring Colombia that he said was to be smuggled into Venezuela.


3/31/2020 10:16:54 AM

The top infectious disease expert in the US says we're seeing 'glimmers' that social distancing is helping, but says a turnaround is yet to comeDr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that social distancing seems to be dampening the spread of the coronavirus.


3/31/2020 10:12:55 AM

FBI report describes China’s ‘biosecurity risk’In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage.


3/30/2020 10:43:33 AM

Coronavirus: Trump orders 'time-wasting' General Motors to make ventilatorsThe US president orders the car maker to help manufacture medical devices and attacks its CEO.


3/30/2020 10:41:53 AM

Border Patrol Stopped a Chinese Biologist Carrying Viable SARS, MERS Viruses at Detroit Airport in 2018U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese scientist carrying vials believed to contain the MERS and SARS viruses in November 2018 — just over a year before the first reported Wuhan coronavirus case, according to an FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.“Inspection of the writing on the vials and the stated recipient led inspection personnel to believe the materials contained within the vials may be viable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) materials,” the report reads. The vials were labeled “Antibodies”, and the unnamed scientist said he was asked to deliver them to a researcher at a U.S. institute.The report also lays out a pattern of Chinese interference, detailing two other cases from May 2018 and September 2019, in which different Chinese nationals tried to enter the U.S. with undeclared flu strains and suspected E. coli, respectively.“The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate assesses foreign scientific researchers who transport undeclared and undocumented biological materials into the United States in their personal carry-on and/or checked luggage almost certainly present a US biosecurity risk,” the report states. “The WMDD makes this assessment with high confidence based on liaison reporting with direct access.”The FBI has stepped up its efforts to combat Chinese espionage operations in recent months after admitting failures in preventing the recruitment of U.S. researchers by Beijing’s “Thousand Talents Plan.”“With our present-day knowledge of the threat from Chinese plans, we wish we had taken more rapid and comprehensive action in the past,” John Brown, assistant director of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, told a Senate subcommittee in November. “The time to make up for that is now.”In January, the head of Harvard University’s chemistry department was federally charged with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, after he hid his involvement in the talents program, which encourages the stealing of U.S. intellectual property.China has come under fire for its handling of the coronavirus, despite pushing propaganda, which has been parroted by Western media, in an attempt to shift criticism to the U.S. A study released earlier this month detailed how the Chinese Communist Party could have prevented 95 percent of total infections if it had acted sooner to limit the spread and warn others.


3/30/2020 2:42:14 PM

Fact check: will Covid-19 fade in the summer – then return later like the flu?Experts weigh in on whether coronavirus will dissipate during the summer and warn against letting up on physical distancing * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageThe seasonal flu tends to dissipate during the summer, leading some to hope the coronavirus will do the same. Experts explain why transmission of some illnesses lowers with warmer temperatures – and warn against lowering our guard. Why are some viruses seasonal?Dr Marc Lipsitch: What makes seasonal viruses seasonal is a combination of opportunities for transmission – whether school is in term, which facilitates transmission – and what proportion of the population is immune, combined with weather.Humidity is lower in the winter, which is good for transmission. Low humidity makes [virus-carrying] droplets settle more slowly because they shrink to smaller sizes and then friction keeps them in the air, whereas high humidity doesn’t do that.Dr Lee W Riley: People still get the common cold [in the summer] and we’re beginning to see this new coronavirus in the southern hemisphere. It’s more about the way people behave. Can we expect the number of Covid-19 cases to fall this summer?Lipsitch: Based on our best estimates from other coronaviruses, summer alone is not going to bring transmission to a level where the number of cases shrinks. It’s just going to grow more slowly.It’s really clear that warmer weather does not stop the transmission or growth of the virus. That’s clear from Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have kept it to a large degree under control, but that’s with incredibly intense control measures. There’s no question that coronaviruses are capable of transmitting in hotter, humid climates.Dr George Rutherford: Thinking that it’s magically going to go away in April or May or whenever is just that – magical thinking. The projections show quite a bit of transmission out through the summer.Riley: It’s a completely new virus, so it’s really hard to know what would happen. If you try to extrapolate from [related] viruses, then we don’t expect for this new coronavirus to completely disappear by the summer.default Could there be a second wave of infections in the autumn?Riley: A reintroduction of the epidemic is certainly possible; it’s beginning to happen in Hong Kong. Hong Kong successfully controlled the epidemic early on, and they started relaxing some of their restrictions. Now they’re beginning to see new cases reappear.Rutherford: In 2009, we saw a second wave of the swine flu. It started in the spring in Mexico. Some schools in the United States got out early for the summer, and when [students] went back in the fall, it came back in a bump. That [outbreak] was blunted because a vaccine came out that fall. That’s not going to happen here. We’re going to have to temporize until a vaccine arrives.Lipsitch: If we let up on social distancing before a large fraction of the population is immune, there could be a second peak of infections in the fall, when it’s most contagious, due to school being back in session and cooler temperatures. And that would be the worst possible outcome. Will we need to resume social distancing in the fall?Lipsitch: If our strategy is to use social distancing as our main control measure because we haven’t figured out anything better, then the best way to do it is to distance until we bring cases down to low enough levels that we can let transmission resume by relaxing social distancing, and have several weeks or months where we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.And then we distance again, and repeat the cycle. With each cycle, we’ll get more time off social distancing, because the buildup of immunity in the population helps to slow the spread. So you don’t get to the dangerous peak as quickly.That [scenario] will be destructive to the economy, to education, and all sorts of things. But as a means of trying to preserve the healthcare system, if we don’t have another approach, it may be our best option.I want to be clear: as an epidemiologist, I’m saying what I think existing tools make possible for the purposes of disease control, and not what I think is socially desirable. Multiple rounds of social distancing are not something I look forward to.Riley: It’s conceivable that we may have to do another round of lockdowns, but we need to look even further ahead. What’s going to happen next year? Is it going to come back again like the influenza? Is a new type of coronavirus going to come back? Maybe not next year, but maybe, two years from now? This is not the only time we’re going to be doing these lockdowns. Is there another approach we could take?Rutherford: I think as shelter in place starts to get peeled back, it’s going to need to be replaced with something more along the South Korean model of aggressive contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, and that’s going to be the bridge to get us out to when the vaccine comes in. Given the hit on the economy that’s going on now, there’s going to be a lot of enthusiasm for the South Korean model.Lipsitch: If we can do that, it’s great. The challenge is that reintroductions are a constant threat. We’ve seen it in China. They’re trying to go back to work while doing control based on individual cases, but they’ve had multiple introductions from outside the country now. I think it’s what we should aim for, but I’m not hugely optimistic that it will work.Riley: South Korea and Hong Kong had really efficient contact tracing programs, where they would quarantine the contacts of symptomatic people who were diagnosed with coronavirus. It was a much more focused approach to controlling transmission.The problem in the US is we don’t have that kind of manpower, and that’s probably something that the US really needs to start looking into in a very serious way, because we just totally neglected our public health system infrastructure.Panel: * Dr Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director, Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health * Dr Lee W Riley, professor and chair of the Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, UC–Berkeley School of Public Health * Dr George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, director, Prevention and Public Health Group, UCSF


3/30/2020 12:05:41 PM

Rep. Velazquez has presumed COVID-19 infection, was near Pelosi, other lawmakers last weekRep. Nydia Velazquez spoke on the House floor Friday and stood near Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the signing of the $2 trillion stimulus bill.


3/30/2020 2:28:00 PM

Indian police fire tear gas at jobless workers defying coronavirus lockdownNEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - Police in India fired tear gas to disperse a stone-pelting crowd of migrant workers defying a three-week lockdown against the coronavirus that has left hundreds of thousands of poor without jobs and hungry, authorities said on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country's 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15, declaring such self-isolation was the only hope to stop the viral pandemic. On Sunday, about 500 workers clashed with police in the western city of Surat demanding they be allowed to go home to other parts of India because they had no jobs left.


3/30/2020 1:52:58 AM

Fit, healthy 33-year-old recounts falling ill to coronavirusAndrea Napoli didn’t fit the usual profile of a coronavirus patient. At 33, he was in perfect health, with no history of respiratory disease. Until that day, Napoli was following his routine of work, jogging and swimming.


3/29/2020 2:49:04 PM

3 mild symptoms could predict which coronavirus patients develop severe lung disease, research suggests — including body achesBody aches — along with two other factors — could be an early warning sign of severe coronavirus cases.


3/31/2020 9:40:00 AM

McConnell: Impeachment 'diverted attention' from coronavirusSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Donald Trump's impeachment trial distracted the federal government from the novel coronavirus as it reached the United States in January, despite warnings at the time from public health experts and members of Congress about the spread of the virus. The Trump administration has been severely criticized for its slow response to the spreading pandemic, especially for the shortage of coronavirus testing kits when the infection first spread to the U.S. from China.


3/31/2020 11:21:31 AM

A Doctor Who Met Putin Just Tested Positive, and Russia’s COVID-19 Crackdowns Could Get Real Ugly.MOSCOW—Amid a growing uproar in newly locked-down Russia, news broke on Tuesday that a doctor President Vladimir Putin met with just a week ago during a highly publicized visit to a coronavirus treatment facility has now tested positive for the infection himself. Widely disseminated photos of the visit showed Putin donning an orange hazmat suit, but he had also talked to Dr. Denis Protsenko extensively without protection and photographs show them together with very little "social distancing."Putin's spokesman says the Russian president is tested frequently for coronavirus infection and is just fine. But the news is bound to shake a country already racked by uncertainty, fear, and not a little anger.“You should find abandoned cells used to punish prisoners, cold ones with no food in them, lock them up there,” Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov declared as the Russian Federation went into a nationwide lockdown over the weekend. He was telling his security force commanders how to treat those who disobeyed the curfew and quarantine orders. “Throw them in a big hole, bury them, let them die in it."Most Russian officials are not as blunt and brutal as Kadyrov, a Putin protégé and the point man for some of the more ruthless actions carried out in support of the president. But the coronavirus crisis has brought to the fore the grim authoritarian instincts of several leaders in what was once the Soviet Bloc. As their people try to find masks and rubber gloves to protect themselves, dictators are raising their iron fists, not least, to protect their regimes. Others are still trying to pretend there's no problem at the moment. The crackdowns will come later.One of the most stunning moves was taken in Hungary, a member of the European Union, where the parliament passed a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—one of Putin’s closest EU soulmates—virtually unlimited powers to rule by decree; suspending parliament; canceling elections; threatening up to five years in prison for those who spread “fake new” and rumors (read, criticism of the regime); and up to eight years in prison for those who break the quarantine. All this for as long as Orbán wants. “And there it is,” tweeted historian and columnist Anne Applebaum, “The European Union's first dictatorship. None of these powers is needed to fight the virus. But they will help distract and deter opposition, especially when it becomes clear that the government has no better plan.”Here in the Russian capital the picture is more mixed, because Putin himself has sent messages to the public almost as confusing and contradictory as those of President Donald J. Trump in the United States.For weeks and months, as thousands began dying from the disease in China—then Italy, France, Spain, around the world and now with a vengeance in the United States—many epidemiologists warned COVID-19 will kill millions if drastic measures are not taken to stop it. But Russia delayed the actions needed to prevent the worst outbreak scenarios.Putin Worries Coronavirus Could Screw Up His Constitutional ‘Coronation’It was obvious, as we reported, that President Vladimir Putin and his supporters did not want anything to interfere with a planned April 22 referendum to ratify his continued rule for at least another 16 years. It was also apparent that Russia did not want to let anything interfere with its May 9 Victory Day celebrations marking 75 years since the defeat of the Nazis. So the official number of infections in this country that borders the Chinese and European epicenters of the spreading plague remained implausibly low.Last week, the numbers caught up with the Kremlin, as cases became too numerous to deny, and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said flatly the infection rate was much higher than the government was admitting. The number of officially diagnosed Muscovites now exceeds 1,000, with at least nine people killed by the virus. On Tuesday last week, Russia’s Channel One announced: “Our president is on the front lines of the main war on the planet, the war with coronavirus.” Over the last two decades, Russians have seen Putin as a self-styled man of action mobilizing resources to make Russia stronger, richer, greater. TV channels showed the commander-in-chief in the cockpit of a fighter jet wearing a pilot’s uniform. His shirtless shots became iconic. He even appeared to guide migrant birds as he flew an ultra-light aircraft. And now the country watched Putin in a bright yellow hazmat suit touring Moscow’s new coronavirus hospital, although it appears he did not actually meet any coronavirus patients. Putin was giving the public its cue, once again, to follow the leader. And he did meet with the hospital’s chief physician, Dr. Denis Protsenko, whose positive test for coronavirus was just announced this Tuesday.Protsenko, 44, sounded straightforward when he spoke to the BBC last week. He said he was convinced that Russia should be ready for the “Italian scenario,” and that he personally was prepared to put diapers on and work 12 hours a day in intensive care units, like Chinese doctors did at the peak of the epidemic. “I personally would put Moscow on quarantine,” he declared, adding with tact worthy of Trump advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, “The question is about the price for closing down.”But in Putin’s address to the nation the next day, he did not use the word “quarantine” at all. To the relief of many, he announced that nobody would have to go to work until April 5, but they would be paid, and nobody would have to go to the polls to vote for constitutional changes on April 22. The referendum would be postponed.“If Putin made Russians go to polling stations next month, that would threaten thousands of lives; he is careful choosing his words now, he tries to secure his reputation,” Ilya Yashin, a Moscow municipal deputy, told The Daily Beast.After coronavirus cases tripled in many Russian regions on Thursday, Putin ordered most public places closed, including city parks.“If Russia’s epidemics develop like the Italian scenario, which is quite possible, there will be no way for him to secure his reputation—the entire responsibility will be on the government,” said Yashin. If that happens, one can expect even Putin himself to show the iron fist. But for the moment in the nation’s capital that has not yet hammered down. And many Russians, a famously fatalistic people, appear unimpressed with the twin threats of tyranny and pandemic.On Sunday, most of the Russian capital’s downtown was still open, and public transport as well. Bars were closed, but young people continued to hang out in hidden corners. Skateboarders focused on their kickflips, as if no epidemic mattered. A group of hipsters outside a still-open bookstore listened to a girl read aloud, her face pink in the light of sunset. The poem was one of Joseph Brodsky’s: “They loved to sit together on a hillside...” Then on Sunday night, Russia slammed its doors a little harder, in a pattern now familiar to countries around the world: governments first try to persuade, and when that fails, as it usually does, they try to enforce the quarantines and distancing. A few hours before midnight Sunday night, authorities finally announced a complete lockdown for the capital and its 11 million residents. Police cars with loudspeakers began to order pedestrians to hurry back home: everyone in the city now had to stay in their apartments, leaving only for the closest grocery or drug store, or to walk a dog no more than 100 meters from home—the kinds of restrictions imposed in much of Western Europe for weeks now, and in Italy for more than a month. Moscow was joining the club of almost three billion self-isolating people around the globe. Moscow Mayor Sobyanin declared that the epidemic was entering “a new phase.”Yet, as of Monday, authorities reported every fifth muscovite violated the new regime. Even pro-Kremlin Russian experts said the measures came too late—with all the terrifying examples in the West to prove the point. “It was great we closed down Russia’s border with China in January but Moscow should have given people a week off from work earlier this month, and authorities should have banned all travel by trains and  airplanes from Moscow to other regions,” pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov told The Daily Beast on Monday morning. “That would have protected more than 55 regions, which are now also infected.”  By Monday afternoon, 71 out of 85 Russian regions had reported coronavirus cases—the epidemic is spreading around the world’s largest country like windblown fire through dry grass, affecting its poorest and most vulnerable people even in remote corners of the federation.An infected resident who apparently contracted the disease on a trip to Cuba brought it to the remote town of Apatity, about 1,000 miles north of Moscow, in the Murmansk region. By the weekend, according to television reports, dozens of people in Apatity and nearby Kurskiy were checking into hospitals with coronavirus symptoms, so authorities had to shut down both towns for self-isolation on Monday.The sale of alcohol, wine as well as vodka, has jumped by at least 20 percent compared to March 2019. As for protection from the virus, there was none available. As happened in so many other countries, every pharmacy in town was out of masks and hand sanitizer. Yet many Russians found a kind of perverse courage by comparing what seemed the hypothetical threat of the virus with all too substantive difficulties and dangers of everyday life.A video clip steeped in slavic fatalism mocked the pandemic. Russia is used to nightmares, it proclaimed: “First, our blood is full of alcohol, the whole of life is folded into a black hole; Authorities hypnotize us and sell us out, but we have no infected fellas in our favelas.” Why be worried about COVID-19 if you risk being eaten by a bear or getting killed by a policeman, the authors say. “We lost all our ability to be afraid,” the song concluded: “We don’t give a shit.” The polls reflect that sort of attitude. According to social research by Romir Holding, 54 percent of Russians do not believe in the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, even now, the only man Russians listen to, commander of the coronavirus war Vladimir Putin, still has not given clear instructions about the deadly outbreak, or how to avoid getting infected. Nobody clearly predicted the scale of the epidemic’s storm coming to Russia, nobody talked about the exponential growth of the outbreak in the United States and Europe except to crow as if Russia somehow were exempt.In announcing the week off, Putin did ask Russians not to rely on  traditional “avos,” the typical carelessness and fatalism traditional in the nation’s approach to the dark promise of the future, but the message seems to have been taken with, well, fatalism and carelessness.Moscow is still in the early stages of the inevitable nightmare, when confusion and defiance mingle with fear. So hairdressers are still working, and without masks. Women are going to them without taking the slightest precautions. This, even as thousands of people who suspecting they’ve been infected are calling a coronavirus hotline.Russia Claimed It Created a Coronavirus Cure, but It’s an American Malaria DrugEarlier this week Yulia Galyamina, a Moscow politician and scientist lost her sense of smell, developed a fever and felt weak. Those are all signs of infection. But as in other countries, she found it impossible to get a test unless she could prove she was at death’s door. She called a doctor and the agency supervising tests, but they said they could do nothing for her. “A district [government] doctor said since I was not terribly sick, I could not get tested,” Galyamina told The Daily Beast. “Private labs ask you not to show up if you have had symptoms in the past week.” On Saturday, authorities admitted that 166,000 Russians are on a coronavirus watch list—not confirmed with infection, but suspected of having the contagion or of being at risk. That’s a worrisome number. It suggests the observable cases are vastly higher than those confirmed, and again raises the question of why no clear determination had been made about many of them weeks ago.“Moscow Mayor Sobyanin had guts to tell Putin right into his face on Tuesday that the real situation is much worse than the official reports say,” Vladimir Ryzhkov, professor at the Higher School of Economics, told The Daily Beast. Earlier this month, Putin said that the situation with coronavirus was “under control.” Authorities told Russians not to spread fake news about the pandemic threat. When there were still just a few cases of COVID-19 in Russia, Anastasia Kirilenko, The Insider’s investigative reporter, heard tragic news from Novosibirsk: her 34-year-old cousin died of pneumonia. The Russian health system is in miserable shape in the regions, dozens of district clinics closed in rural remote towns all across the country in the past few years.“Regional paramedics diagnosed my cousin, a young and healthy man, with acute respiratory viral infection but did not do an x-ray to check why he had a high temperature during the last month of his life,” Kirilenko told The Daily Beast. “Now we wonder if my cousin had coronavirus just like thousands of other Russians who are said to have only pneumonia.”  Christopher Dickey also contributed to this article.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


3/31/2020 3:49:57 AM

Cuomo: Rate of hospitalizations decreasingNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the rate of hospitalizations because of the coronavirus pandemic is slowing in the state.


3/30/2020 2:24:07 PM

Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths 'if we do things almost perfectly'"I think in some of the metro areas we were late in getting people to follow the 15-day guidelines," the White House coronavirus response coordinator said on "TODAY."


3/30/2020 9:47:42 AM

'The watermelons will rot:' U.S. visa confusion in Mexico keeps out agriculture workersRestricted visa services, quickly evolving regulations and increased border controls risk wider labor shortages in the United States produce industry that may leave grocery stores scrambling for fruits and vegetables as spring and summer harvests spread across the United States. On Thursday, more than 100 workers waited in a stifling park in the center of Monterrey, Mexico, backpacks and rolling suitcases in hand, for news about their H-2A temporary agriculture worker visas.


3/30/2020 5:11:03 AM