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March 4, 2020 at 7:31 am #1203370575
SUPER TUESDAY ROUND-UP
The latest results
CNN projects that Joe Biden will win nine states:
Three states for Bernie Sanders:
Bloomberg won the territory of American Samoa.
Maine and California are too close to call.
Bloomberg out: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is ending his campaign and endorsing Biden.March 5, 2020 at 7:52 am #1203371950
Elizabeth Warren is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race.March 10, 2020 at 10:29 am #1203377044
The 3 likeliest outcomes from Super Tuesday II
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated 11:52 AM ET, Tue March 10, 2020
(CNN) It’s only been a week since Super Tuesday, but the shape of the 2020 Democratic presidential race has been radically altered.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has surged into the delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, boosted by an avalanche of endorsements from his former rivals including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker. Sanders has spent the week on defense, insisting that he remains very much a relevant player in the race.
Which brings us to today, aka “Super Tuesday II.”
All told, six states — Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington — will cast ballots. The big prize is Michigan, with 125 delegates at stake; both Biden and Sanders have spent time in the state, and Sanders has made plain that he needs the state.
“We’re working as hard as we can because Michigan is very, very significant in terms of the primary process,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday. “We hope to repeat the victory we had in 2016.”
That’s especially true since Biden is well positioned to win big in Mississippi and Missouri — and with Washington state looking competitive as well.
Below are the three most likely scenarios coming out of Super Tuesday, from less likely to most likely. (Nota bene: These are projections based on current polling. As last week showed, polling can often run behind where the public actually is.)
3. Sanders wins Michigan: Four years ago, all of the polling suggested that Hillary Clinton would edge Sanders out in Michigan. Clinton had all the establishment support. Everyone — including the Sanders people — expected her to win. And she lost.
Which means, in the immortal words of Kevin Garnett, anything is possible! The state — in terms of demographics — shapes up well for Sanders. In 2016, 7 in 10 voters in the primary were white and more than 1 in 3 were whites without a college degree, a group that has been one of the pillars of the Vermont senator’s support in this election and in 2016. The state is not, however, significantly Hispanic — just 3% in 2016 — which makes it more difficult for Sanders since Latinos have been a reliable voting bloc for him.
Still, surprises happen! And if this one comes to pass, the race will reset for a second time, with it looking like a potential delegate photo finish between Biden and Sanders.
2. Biden wins Michigan by single digits: A win is a win — and given Biden’s polling strength in Mississippi and Missouri — he would still likely be perfectly fine with this sort of outcome. But the narrower a Biden win in Michigan, the more ability Sanders has to make the case that even with the full weight of the party establishment behind him, Biden wasn’t able to put him away totally in the Wolverine State.
It would be a blow to Sanders’ campaign, no doubt, but maybe not one that makes it clear he simply has no viable path to the nomination. It would allow him to make the case that Biden’s surge is beginning to abate and, because of Sanders’ remarkable (and ongoing) fundraising as well as the loyalty of his core supporters, he still can win this thing particularly with other Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Ohio yet to vote.
1. Biden wins big In Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri (at least): Ever since he won the South Carolina primary on February 29, Biden has looked like an absolute juggernaut.
Polling in Michigan suggests that Biden is comfortably ahead of Sanders in a state where the Vermont senator beat Clinton in 2016. And Sanders’ decision to effectively pull out of Mississippi to focus more time on Michigan raises the likelihood that Biden could sweep all or the vast majority of delegates among what is expected to be a heavily African American electorate. There’s been little polling in Missouri, but what’s out there suggests another major Biden win.
Sweeping all three of those states by double digits, which seems likely at this point, would not only give Biden a delegate win for the day but also cement the idea that the race is his to lose at that point. But would Sanders leave the race? Color me skeptical.March 11, 2020 at 9:50 am #1203378160
BREAKING NEWS: Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison after addressing his accusers
New York (CNN) Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday in a New York courtroom, the culmination of a case that fueled the global #MeToo movement and encouraged women to speak out against sexual abuse.
“I really feel remorse for this situation,” the former Hollywood producer said, his voice barely audible, as he addressed the court before the sentence was handed down. “I feel it deeply in my heart. I will spend my time really caring and really trying to be a better person.”
“I’m not going to say that these aren’t great people,” he also said of his accusers. “I’ve had wonderful times with these people.”
Weinstein wore a blank face as he was taken out of the courtroom. His accusers cried together in the front row.
Times Up and others react to Harvey Weinstein sentence
Prosecutors and leaders of the #MeToo movement praised the lengthy sentence, while Weinstein’s defense attorney Donna Rotunno called it “obscene,” “obnoxious” and “cowardly.”
Weinstein, 67, arrived to his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair and handcuffs. He had faced between five and 29 years for last month’s convictions.
Judge James Burke sentenced him to 20 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual act and three years in prison for third-degree rape. The sentences will run consecutively and both come with five years of supervision after release.
The charges were based on testimony by Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, who both spoke at Wednesday’s sentencing.
“If Harvey Weinstein had not been convicted by this jury, it would have happened again and again and again,” Haley told the court. “I’m relieved he will now know he’s not above the law. I’m relieved there are women out there who are safer because he’s not out there.”
Weinstein’s statement came as a surprise
Weinstein’s comments in court were unexpected. In general, defendants planning to appeal a guilty verdict or who face other charges do not speak at sentencing because what they say can be used against them, according to Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney who has worked in criminal defense.
Weinstein, who did not testify during the trial, spoke Wednesday for about 20 minutes, continuing even as defense attorney Arthur Aidala repeatedly and quietly asked him to stop talking.
Weinstein said he believed the relationships with women who spoke out against him were consensual, mentioning Mann. “I really, really was under that impression that I had that kind of relationship, five years with Jessica,” he said.
He lamented how the allegations had impacted his personal life.
“I haven’t seen my three older children since the day the New York Times article came out,” he said, referring to the October 2017 story that broke open a wave of claims against Weinstein. “I haven’t seen them. I have no idea what they’re doing. That, to me, is hell on Earth.”
Weinstein said he’s worried about this country and people’s right to due process. He also told the judge that he wanted to testify during the trial but his attorneys warned him that it would hurt his case.
Outside court, Rotunno said Weinstein feels “terrible” and is “confused” about the sentence, adding that she supported his decision to speak in court.
“I’m happy that Harvey spoke. Harvey has been silent for years. I think Harvey could have said anything today and it wouldn’t have mattered,” Rotunno said. “From Harvey’s perspective, Harvey needed to do that, and I’m glad that he was able to do so.”
Haley, Mann and the four other women who testified against Weinstein at his trial — actress Annabella Sciorra and three “prior bad acts” witnesses — arrived to court with prosecutors and sat in the front row. Actress Rosie Perez, who testified in support of Sciorra’s claims, walked in with them and sat in the second row.
Weinstein was acquitted of two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which could have come with a life sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon had asked Burke on Wednesday to sentence Weinstein to the maximum or near the maximum sentence.
Defense attorneys had asked that he get the minimum possible sentence: five years. Anything more than that is “basically the death penalty,” Aidala said, citing Weinstein’s health and age. He called him a “broken down man.”
Weinstein has been in state custody since the verdict and has had several health issues. He had a heart procedure last week during which doctors inserted a stent, and on Sunday he fell while at Rikers Island jail, his publicist Juda Engelmayer told CNN.
Victims describe how Weinstein changed their lives
In court before the sentence was delivered, Haley broke down crying as she described during her victim impact statement being assaulted by Weinstein.
“I believe that when he attacked me that evening with physical force, with no regard for my cries and protests, it scarred me deeply — mentally and emotionally,” Haley said.
Haley said the past two years have been excruciating, filled with paranoia and daily fear of retaliation. And while testifying against Weinstein was difficult, it did help Haley process what had happened to her, she said.
Haley felt Weinstein showed a lack of remorse or acknowledgment for his crimes, she said, and she asked the judge to consider a sentence “long enough for Harvey Weinstein to acknowledge what he has done.”
Mann minutes later asked Burke to impose the maximum sentence for rape in the third degree, with sentences served concurrently.
Mann wants the “gift” of knowing exactly where Weinstein is at all times, she said, adding she hopes he’ll be rehabilitated in prison.
“Twelve people found Harvey unanimously guilty of raping me. That is not an easy task,” she said.
Mann also referenced drug charges that she said carry longer sentence recommendations than third-degree rape.
“How am I not worth more than cocaine?” she said.
Weinstein also faces felony charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint in Los Angeles. Prosecutors say he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another in separate incidents over a two-day period in February 2013.
Weinstein has not turned himself in or been arraigned on the California charges.
He has denied all allegations of “nonconsensual sexual activity” related to the New York case and other claims made against him.
Defense asked for 5 years in prison
Illuzzi-Orbon on Wednesday referenced the submitted sentencing memo that she said detail additional accounts of victims of Weinstein’s abuse and show his lack of human empathy, selfishness, and a life rooted in criminality. One assistant told prosecutors Weinstein threatened to kill her and her entire family, Illuzzi-Orbon said.
The prosecutor also described the glamorous lifestyle Weinstein lived as a giant of the movie industry.
“He got drunk on the power,” Illuzzi-Orbon said. “Young struggling dreamers were not real people to him.”
Illuzzi-Orbon read a profile of Weinstein given to hotel employees in which they were cautioned, “Do not go near the car. Do not speak at him. Do not look at him. Stay away.”
Illuzzi-Orbon also noted Weinstein’s significant legal representation, saying she thought his defense team made every reasonable argument it should have and could have made on his behalf.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued in an 11-page court filing last week that Weinstein should receive a sentence that “reflects the seriousness of defendant’s offenses.” He led a “lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” prosecutors argued, and they highlighted three dozen uncharged incidents and accusations.
“Starting in the 1970s, he has trapped women into his exclusive control and assaulted or attempted to assault them,” Illuzzi-Orbon wrote in a letter.
Weinstein’s defense attorneys wrote in a sentencing letter that Weinstein’s personal charitable giving, advanced age, medical issues and lack of a criminal history should lead to a lower sentence. They wrote that his life “has been destroyed” since the publication of an article in The New Yorker in October 2017 that alleged systemic abuse of women in the entertainment industry.
“His wife divorced him, he was fired from The Weinstein Company, and in short, he lost everything,” the attorneys wrote.
The attorneys also cited the “collateral consequences” he continues to face.
“Mr. Weinstein cannot walk outside without being heckled, he has lost his means to earn a living, simply put, his fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media,” according to the letter signed by attorneys Damon Cheronis, Rotunno and Aidala.March 11, 2020 at 7:47 pm #1203378818
Trump will suspend all travel from Europe to the US for next 30 days
President Trump announced tonight that all travel from Europe to the United States will be suspended for the next 30 days, except for the UK.
Trump made the decision in order to “keep new cases from entering our shores.” He said the new rule will go into effect beginning Friday at midnight.
“We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will are be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” the President said from the Oval Office.
Trump said there will be certain exemptions made for certain Americans “who have undergone appropriate screenings.”
“These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom,” Trump added.
NBA suspends its season after player tests positive for coronavirus
by David Close and Amanda Jackson, CNN
Updated 10:42 PM ET, Wed March 11, 2020
(CNN) The NBA is suspending its season after a player preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus, the league announced Wednesday.
The news came after the NBA game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly postponed on Wednesday night.
Players for both teams were on the court at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City for warm-ups but were called back to the locker rooms. The NBA said the affected player was not in the arena and the test results were reported shortly before tip-off.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” said the statement from the organization.
“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Juan Guerra II, who says he is an avid Thunder fan, told CNN they had presented the National Anthem and announced the starting lineups.
“And then boom, a guy in a suit started a joint conversation with all the referees, then both head coaches — next thing you knew the Jazz went into the locker room and then the Thunder,” he said.
The announcer at the game was heard telling fans that they were safe and to please leave the arena.
CNN has reached out to the team for a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many sports leagues to consider making adjustments, including canceling events and holding games without fans. Before the NBA’s decision to suspend its season, the Golden State Warriors announced that its Thursday night game in San Francisco against the Brooklyn Nets would be played without fans.
The NCAA also announced Wednesday that its annual basketball tournament would go forward but with only “essential personnel” and “limited family” in attendance.
In light of the NBA’s decision, the National Hockey League released a statement that it is still evaluating the options around the league’s season and will have an update on Thursday.
CNN’s Lauren Johnson and Homero DeLaFuente contributed to this report.March 12, 2020 at 3:35 pm #1203379637
The NCAA is canceling March Madness
by Steve Almasy, CNN
Updated 4:42 PM ET, Thu March 12, 2020
Here’s how the novel coronavirus outbreak unfolded
(CNN) The NCAA announced Thursday it is canceling March Madness, the men’s Division I basketball tournament, and other winter and spring NCAA championships, due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“This decision is based on the evolving Covid-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.
The decision involves men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in divisions I, II and III.
The men’s Division I championship has been played every year since its inception in 1939.
The decision appears to include the College World Series, which was scheduled for June.
How major sports leagues in the US are responding to coronavirus
The news comes as many sports leagues are pausing their seasons.
Earlier, five-time national champion Duke University said it would not play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — had it be held.
The private university in Durham, North Carolina, is suspending its sports programs for the “foreseeable future,” it said in a statement.
Another basketball blue blood, the University of Kansas, said in a statement it was canceling athletic travel indefinitely. and athletics competitions have been suspended indefinitely.
It was unclear whether next week’s NCAA basketball tournaments were part of the Kansas halt to athletics.
Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the 10th-ranked Blue Devils, said he emphatically supported Duke’s decision.
“The welfare of our student-athletes, and all students at Duke, is paramount, and this decision reflects that institutional priority,” he said.
The unranked Duke women’s team finished third in the ACC regular season and was expected to be selected for the NCAA tournament.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.March 16, 2020 at 8:18 am #1203382788
5 takeaways from the Biden vs. Sanders debate
(CNN) Former Vice President Joe Biden brought olive branches to Sunday night’s debate. But Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders preferred what might be one final fight.
The 11th Democratic presidential debate took place as the nation confronts the coronavirus pandemic, with the candidates’ podiums set six feet apart serving as a reminder of the global public health emergency.
It was the first one-on-one showdown between the primary’s two finalists. The delegate math suggests their race is approaching its end, with the former vice president building a clear lead that’s expected to grow Tuesday with primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. But Sunday night showed that how the end occurs remains an open question.
Sanders repeatedly laid into Biden’s record on Social Security and bankruptcy legislation, trade and more. But Biden — who appeared to accept midway through that the two wouldn’t find much common ground — also decided to directly engage with Sanders on his record as well.
He also had an ace in the hole. Biden said for the first time he would pick a female vice president — a significant development that Sanders didn’t quite match.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday night’s debate:
Coronavirus response: Results vs. revolution
The vast gulf between Sanders and Biden on politics and policy, as well as how they would approach the presidency, was on display in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden sought to offer competency and showcase a detailed understanding of the federal government. He also touted his own experience, pointing to decisions he made during his eight years as vice president.
“This is like a war, and in a war you do whatever is needed to be done to take care of your people,” Biden said, adding later that he would use the US military to respond.
Sanders, by comparison, argued the spread of the coronavirus was something that has exacerbated — and even highlighted — the flaws in the current US health care and economic system, casting himself as offering the wholesale change that he feels the country needs.
The Vermont senator also channeled the anger about Trump’s leadership during this crisis.
“First thing we have got to do, whether or not I’m president, is to shut this president up right now,” Sanders said, echoing other Democrats as he knocked Trump for “undermining the doctors and the scientists” who are leading the response.
The clearest illustration of their vast differences came in an exchange over economic inequality and the response to the coronavirus. Biden pledged to make people “whole,” but offered a more focused approach on tackling the issue, while Sanders disagreed, saying it is “not good enough not to be understanding how we got here and where we want to go into the future.”
“People are looking for results,” Biden said, “not a revolution.”
Biden pledges to pick a female running mate
Biden calmly dropped the biggest news of the night into an answer on protecting women’s rights: He would pick a woman to be his running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination.
“There are a number of women qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president,” Biden said.
CNN’s Dana Bash followed up with Biden, asking point blank if he would pick a woman as his running mate. “Yes,” he said.
The announcement has huge implications. Biden is currently the delegate leader in the Democratic primary and the odds-on favorite to be the party’s nominee. His commitment could end up becoming reality.
Biden has long said he wants someone “simpatico” on policy as his running mate. He has also at times named a number of women as potential vice presidential nominees. He has singled out California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, and New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen.
Sanders was less committal about the idea of having a woman running mate.
“In all likelihood, I will,” Sanders said. “For me, it’s not just nominating a woman. It is making sure that we have a progressive woman and there are progressive women out there. So, my very strong tendency is to move in that direction.”
The nation has only ever had two women vice presidential candidates: Geraldine Ferraro ran as Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984 and Sarah Palin ran as John McCain’s running mate in 2008.
“I agree with Bernie”
Biden tried to extend olive branches to Sanders and his supporters Sunday night — though his rival wasn’t ready to bridge their ideological divides.
The former vice president pointed to his moves within the previous two days to embrace free public university tuition for those whose families make less than $125,000 per year and to embrace Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to undo much of a bankruptcy bill they’d fought over 15 years earlier.
“I agree with Bernie,” Biden said as they discussed surging help to hospitals facing the coronavirus pandemic.
“I agreed with Bernie,” he said later when noting they both believed those on Wall Street responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should have gone to jail.
Sanders mostly didn’t reciprocate, which a frustrated Biden pointed out.
“He’s making it hard for me right now. I’ve been trying to give him credit for things and he won’t even take the credit,” Biden said.
Still, the former vice president sought to minimize his differences with Sanders in a bid to create an open door for the Vermont senator’s supporters to migrate to Biden’s campaign if he wins the Democratic nomination. Though Sanders disagreed, Biden said the two have the same priorities on health care, student debt, education, and climate change.
“We disagree on the detail of how we do it, but we don’t disagree on the principle. We fundamentally disagree with this president on everything,” Biden said.
After a debate in which Biden touted Sanders-backed policies he’s embracing, Biden’s campaign made clear it views Sanders himself as an annoyance to be batted away. Senior Biden adviser Anita Dunn said Biden “for two hours graciously dealt with the kind of protester who often shows up at campaign events.”
Can Biden win? “I have my doubts”
Sanders, meanwhile, directly questioned whether Biden can defeat President Trump in the general election.
Sanders pointed to his strong support from young voters and Latinos. He also nodded to exit polls showing his own proposals on issues like Medicare for All being more popular among Democratic primary voters than Biden’s positions, even as Biden has overwhelmingly won most states.
“I have my doubts about how you win a general election against Trump, who will be a very, very tough opponent, unless you have energy, excitement, the largest voter turnout in history,” Sanders said.
“I have my doubts that Vice President Biden’s campaign can generate that energy and excitement and that voter turnout,” he added.
Sanders starts a policy brawl
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders participate in the Democratic debate in Washington, on Sunday, March 15.
Sanders arrived Sunday night ready to lay into Biden over votes he’d cast and comments he’d made over decades, casting the former vice president as too moderate for the modern Democratic Party.
They clashed over climate change, free trade, same-sex marriage and more. But the most illustrative battle was over Social Security, with Sanders bringing an attack that’s been a fixture in his campaign ads into a debate.
“I am saying that you have been on the floor of the Senate time and time again, touting the need to cut Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ programs,” the Vermont senator said to Biden.
“That is not true,” Biden shot back.
Sanders told those watching at home to visit YouTube — where the first search result for “Joe Biden Social Security” is a video posted by Sanders’ campaign in which Biden says to “put all of it on the table.”
Biden said he was willing to put changes to Social Security on the table “in order to get the kinds of changes we need on other things related.”
“But we did not cut it,” Biden said.
“I know,” Sanders shot back, “because people like me helped stop that.”March 24, 2020 at 5:40 am #1203392433
Tokyo Olympics to be postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Published: 08:11 EDT Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, will propose a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics during talks with IOC president, Thomas Bach.
Abe said a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 Games cannot be held in a complete manner amid the coronavirus pandemic. Abe held telephone talks with Bach after the IOC said it would make a decision on the Tokyo Games over the next four weeks.
Until just a few days ago the IOC, along with the Tokyo organising committee and the Japanese government, had insisted there were no plans to delay the Olympics given they were not due to open for another four months but Japan’s NHK public television reported on Tuesday that Abe wants a one-year delay.
Tokyo 2020’s fate was effectively sealed this week when Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to Japan in July, while the British and French governments urged the IOC to make a quick decision.
“I know this is heartbreaking for so many people, athletes, coaches, staff and fans but this was absolutely the right call and everyone should follow their lead,” the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said.
The US Olympic and Paralympic committee followed suit, citing the “enormous” disruption the pandemic had caused to training and the qualification process.
“Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” the committee said in a statement.
World Athletics, the Olympic committees of Brazil, Slovenia and Germany, USA Swimming, USA Track and Field had joined the growing chorus of calls for a new date for the event.
The head of health and safety for London 2012, Lawrence Waterman, had urged the IOC to postpone the Games for the first time in their 124-year modern history, saying they could not be held safely this year.
“These Games need to be postponed, and the sooner the IOC and the Japanese government face up to this the better. It’s simply not safe to put the games on during a global pandemic,” Waterman said in a statement.
“People’s safety and health should come before the costs of delaying contracts. The London Games were the first in history to be completed without a single fatality, we set the standard on health and safety at the Olympics.”
The Olympics have never before been delayed, but were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the two world wars.
Speculation that an announcement was imminent rose on Monday when the IOC member Dick Pound claimed the body had decided to postpone the Olympics for a year, describing it as the most likely solution to the Olympic movement’s biggest crisis since the politically motivated boycotts of Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles four years later. “That’s my conclusion,” Pound told Reuters.
Pound said the IOC had not rushed to an announcement so that it could present the Japanese hosts, sports federations and sponsors with a clear alternative plan.
“Probably what turned the tide in the last couple of days is the curve on the Covid-19 virus. It is getting very, very steep now and this is clearly not something that is going to be under control by June or July and probably not by the end of the year,” he said.
The postponement will come as a blow to the host country, which has spent more than than $12bn on the event, while huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters. Goldman Sachs estimated this month that Japan would lose $4.5bn (550bn yen) in inbound and domestic consumption in 2020 if the Olympics did not take place as planned.
The Nikkei, a Japanese business daily, claimed on Monday that G7 leaders had agreed to a postponement during their teleconference last week, after Abe persuaded them that cancellation was not an option.
Abe told the group that he was determined to hold the Games “in their complete form” – with the full quota of athletes and spectators – as a symbol of the world’s triumph over the coronavirus, the Nikkei said. Boris Johnson reportedly responded with a thumbs-up, while other leaders nodded their approval.
Abe this week hinted that postponement was a possibility, hours after the IOC said it could take up to four weeks to decide the fate of the Games.
“If the IOC’s decision means it becomes impossible to hold the Olympics in their complete form, then a decision may have to be made to postpone them,” he told parliament on Monday.
The Japanese public had already accepted the inevitable. According to a Kyodo news poll last week, almost 70% of respondents said they did not expect the Games to go ahead this summer.March 26, 2020 at 8:49 am #1203395128
What’s in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill
Senate approves stimulus bill. Here’s what’s in it.
(CNN) Congressional lawmakers put the finishing touches on a $2 trillion stimulus bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with cash and assistance for regular Americans, Main Street businesses and hard-hit airlines and manufacturers, among others.
The Senate passed the bill, 96-0, and the House is set to follow suit Friday.
CNN reporters read through the entire legislation. Here’s a list of highlights:
Direct payments to individuals
Under the plan as it was being negotiated, single Americans would receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400 and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17.
However, the payments would start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are doubled for couples.
— Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby
Student loan payments suspended
The Department of Education would suspend payments on student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30, according to the bill.
CNN reported last week that the Department of Education was planning to allow student loan borrowers to suspend payments without penalty and accruing interest for at least 60 days.
— Zachary Cohen and Katie Lobosco
REAL ID deadline delayed
The deadline to obtain a REAL ID, federally mandated identification that will be needed for passengers to board aircraft, will be extended until at least September 2021 — a year past the current deadline, according to a draft version of the Senate stimulus bill obtained by CNN.
Before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the US, states were preparing to issue residents “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s licenses or identification by the October 1 deadline.
— Geneva Sands
Historic boost for unemployment benefits
In an unprecedented expansion of unemployment insurance, the federal government would give jobless workers an extra $600 a week for four months on top of their state benefits, which range from $200 to $550 a week, on average, depending on the state.
In addition, lawmakers want to add up to 13 weeks of extended benefits, which would be fully covered by the federal government. Currently, state unemployment checks last up to between 12 weeks and 28 weeks, depending on the state.
Stimulus bill offers $600 a week to the unemployed for 4 months, drawing Republican objections
Plus, the deal calls for a new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which would provide jobless benefits to those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of the virus and don’t qualify for traditional benefits. This includes independent contractors and the self-employed, who typically don’t qualify for such assistance, and to gig economy workers, who aren’t eligible in many states. These benefits would mirror what’s available in an individual’s state.
— Tami Luhby
$500 billion lending program
The Treasury Department can provide $500 billion in loans, loan guarantees and investments.
That specifically includes $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers and $17 billion for businesses that work in national security. The rest of the funds, $454 billion, are given wide latitude to provide loans to businesses, states and municipalities.
The measure includes restrictions on businesses who receive the loans. Those businesses may not issue dividends for up to a year after the loan is no longer outstanding, and must retain 90% of employment levels as of March 24, “to the extent practicable,” through September 30. The loans also cannot last longer than five years.
There’s a specific provision in the program for direct loans to mid-sized businesses, defined as between 500 and 10,000 employees, as well as non-profit organizations, where no payments will be due for the first six months after the loan is issued.
A congressional oversight commission will monitor how the money is spent.
— Jeremy Herb
Trump businesses can’t get money
The legislation prohibits federally elected officials and their immediate relatives from obtaining funds from the $500 billion program.
Businesses that are owned or partly owned by “the President, the Vice President, the head of an Executive department, or a Member of Congress; and the spouse, child, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law” will be barred. The provision applies to anyone with 20% or greater stake in a business.
Senate stimulus deal includes individual checks–but don’t expect the money until at least May.
This was a key provision for Democrats concerned that Trump would provide funds to his personal businesses in the stimulus package.
— Jeremy Herb
No money for border wall
The Defense Department will get $1.2 billion for the National Guard’s coronavirus response. Over 10,000 National Guard members to date have been activated.
An additional $1 billion is available for Defense Purchases Act purchases.
Notably, while the Pentagon will be allowed to transfer the money to other “applicable” accounts, it prohibits transferring the money to the counter-drug account, an account which has been used to fund Trump’s border wall.
— Ryan Browne
Airlines and airports get what they wanted
The package includes $32 billion in grants for wages and benefits to the decimated airline industry.
That includes $25 billion for passenger airlines, $4 billion for cargo airlines, and $3 billion for industry contractors, such as those who handle catering, baggage, ticketing, and aircraft cleaning.
In addition, another $25 billion for passenger airlines and $4 billion for cargo airlines will be available in the form of loans or loan guarantees.
Companies that receive the assistance are barred from making furloughs, pay cuts, or stock buybacks, and from issuing dividends to investors, through September. It also institutes limits on executive compensation.
Airlines may also be required to operate routes they would otherwise like to cancel because of low ridership or profitability. Under the bill, the Transportation Department can require air carriers continue service on routes, particularly for the “needs of small and remote communities and the need to maintain well-functioning health care and pharmaceutical supply chains, including for medical devices and supplies.”
— Greg Wallace
Hospitals get billions
The stimulus package would provide about $117 billion for hospitals, according to an estimate from the American Hospital Association, which called it an important first step.
The bill creates a $100 billion public health and social emergency fund to reimburse providers for expenses and lost revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic. About $65 billion will go to hospitals, with the rest funneled to doctors, nurses, suppliers and others, the association said.
The legislation also boosts reimbursements by 20% for treating Medicare patients with coronavirus. And it eliminates $8 billion in scheduled payment reductions to hospitals caring for large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients, as well as temporarily removing a 2% cut for treating Medicare patients, which was part of the automatic budget cuts under sequestration.
The American Hospital Association, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, had asked Congress to provide $100 billion for health care personnel and providers to address the outbreak.
Contractors and “gig” workers
Independent contractors and so-called gig workers will be eligible to receive federal aid. The language could provide additional certainty to millions of part-time workers who drive for Uber or deliver for Amazon, in what has become a major part of the digital economy.
The provisions are responsive to requests by tech execs including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who this week wrote to Trump asking for economic support for Uber drivers.
Stimulus bill includes $100M arts funding despite past Trump attempts to cut it
“My goal in writing to you is not to ask for a bailout for Uber, but rather for support for independent contractors and, once we move past the immediate crisis, the opportunity to legally provide them with a real safety net going forward,” Khosrowshahi wrote.
Gig economy businesses such as Uber have battled fiercely at the state level, especially in California, to avoid having to classify their drivers as employees who would be eligible for corporate benefits.
— Richard Davis
Protections against foreclosures and evictions
The bill includes housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters.
The bill states that anyone facing a financial hardship from coronavirus shall be given a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which can be extended for four periods of 30 days each. The legislation says that servicers of federally backed mortgage loans may not begin the foreclosure process for 60 days from March 18.
The bill also does not allow fees, penalties or additional interest to be charged as a result of delayed payments. It includes similar protections for those with multifamily federal mortgage loans, allowing them to receive a 30-day forbearance and up to two 30-day extensions.
Those with federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants would also not be allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period, and they may not charge fees or penalties to tenants for failing to pay rent.
— Jeremy Herb
$25 million for the Kennedy Center
The bill contains $25 million to support the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
A Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations said the funding has bipartisan support.
“This is a federal agency that is funded by a mixture of appropriations and ticket revenues. They’ve had to cancel all their performances, so they have no revenue and have already laid off nearly 800 people. If they don’t get a cash infusion, they will become insolvent and could be unable to reopen,” the aide said.
Stimulus bill includes $100M arts funding despite past Trump attempts to cut it
The Kennedy Center closed on March 17 and does not plan to reopen until at least May 10.
The stimulus package also includes $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal program that Trump has tried to cut from his budget proposals for the past four years and that in a Republican-led Congress already has seen its budget dwindle by several million dollars.
— Kate Bennett
More funding for food assistance
The bill provides $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which supplies food banks, which are expected to see more clients as job losses mount. Some $350 million would buy additional food, and $100 million would be used for distribution.
The package also provides $200 million for food assistance for Puerto Rico and other US territories, as well as $100 million for food distribution on American Indian reservations.
While it appears that the bill provides billions in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Child Nutrition Program, it would not expand eligibility or benefits.
— Tami Luhby
Evacuations of Americans
The bill includes $324 million for the State Department, as well as money specifically for “evacuation expenses,” according to a draft obtained by CNN. The proposed legislation doesn’t specify who would be evacuated, whether it’s US diplomats or American citizens living overseas, or potentially both.
A senior State Department official said that 9,300 Americans had already been repatriated. A different senior State Department official said the government was tracking 13,500 Americans seeking assistance abroad.
— Marshall Cohen and Jennifer Hansler
Peace Corps, diplomatic programs and refugees
The bill includes $88 million for the Peace Corps, an independent US government agency that sends American volunteers abroad. The organization suspended all operations last week and evacuated its volunteers. Its director said operations will return to normal “when conditions permit.”
In addition, the measure provides an additional $324 million for diplomatic programs, $258 million for international disaster assistance, $350 million for migration and refugee assistance and $95 million for USAID operating expenses.
It also authorizes the agencies to administer oaths of office remotely, but they must submit a report to the relevant committees “describing the process and procedures for administering such oaths, including appropriate verification.”
— Marshall Cohen and Jennifer Hansler
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the amount of Treasury Department aid to $500 billion.April 11, 2020 at 10:44 pm #1203421775
New York Times’ coronavirus report outlines how Trump “could have seen what was coming”
(CNN) A new report on the Trump administration’s missteps in the early days of the coronavirus’ spread into the US was published in the New York Times on Saturday, detailing new instances showing how President Donald Trump ignored the warnings of his advisers about the lethal infectious disease approaching America’s doorstep.
According to the report, Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Department of Health and Human Services, convened the White House coronavirus task force on February 21. During his meeting, the group conducted a mock-up exercise of the pandemic. It predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths. As a result, the group “concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation’s economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans.”
However, it would take more than three weeks for Trump to enact social distancing guidelines on March 16.
Two days after that meeting Kadlec learned of human-to-human transmission from asymptomatic individuals, the Times report states. But instead of immediately implementing mitigation steps, the President’s focus turned to messaging.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, issued a warning that the virus would disrupt daily life. Trump canceled a meeting where mitigation efforts would be discussed.
Instead, he appointed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the task force and funneled coronavirus messaging through him. There were also other administration officials who went on television saying the virus was contained.
Over nearly three weeks from February 26 to March 16, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 15 to 4,226. Since then, more than half a million Americans have tested positive for the virus and authorities say hundreds of thousands more are likely infected.
An administration official confirmed to CNN that the government’s top public health experts agreed in the third week of February on the need to begin moving away from a containment strategy and toward a mitigation strategy that would involve aggressive social distancing measures. The agreement among the health officials came after they held a tabletop exercise to game out the potential for a full-blown pandemic.
The public health officials had planned to urge the President to move toward a mitigation strategy after he returned from India, the administration official said, but that meeting was scrapped after Trump returned to Washington infuriated by a plunging stock market and Messonier’s warning about “severe” disruptions to daily life.
Messonier was merely voicing the consensus among the administration’s public health experts, but she jumped the gun — doing so without getting official buy-in.
The official also confirmed that an email chain among the group, and highlighted by the Times, was a focus of some conversations inside the administration. A Feb. 23 email from a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology sharing a report of potential asymptomatic spread of the disease caused alarm among several top officials, the official said.
The Times also describes how Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had been briefing the President on the issue.
Azar “briefed him about the potential seriousness of the virus” during a January 18 phone call. A few days later, in what appeared to be his first comments about the virus to the press, Trump told a reporter at Davos, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s — going to be just fine.”
On another call on January 30, Azar warned Trump of the possibility of a pandemic. Trump reportedly responded by saying Azar was being alarmist.
On the January 30 call, Azar “was blunt, warning that the virus could develop into a pandemic and arguing that China should be criticized for failing to be transparent.”
But Trump rejected the idea of criticizing China.
According to the Times, Trump told Azar to “stop panicking.”
The President wouldn’t change his tune about China until he heard of a Chinese government spokesman spreading a conspiracy asserting that the coronavirus originated from US troops.
That’s around the time Trump began referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and the “China virus.” He has since backed off of using the terms.
The Times piece also outlines the struggle between national security and economic advisers over steps that should be taken in regard to China, a move Trump points to in order to show that he took the threat of coronavirus seriously from the start.
Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, was warned of asymptomatic spread of coronavirus in early January on a call with a Hong Kong epidemiologist who was a friend of his, according to the report. Pottinger, backed by national security adviser Robert O’Brien, pushed the President to take action against China and ultimately convinced him to enact travel restrictions. However, they faced pushback from Trump’s economic team, who feared a strict policy toward China could hurt the trade deal between the two countries.
Another administration official sounding the alarm early was Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro. Many administration advisers dismissed Navarro’s warnings about the coronavirus’ potential spread in a January memo as alarmist.
Trump has publicly denied knowing about the January memo until it made headlines this month, but the Times reports that Trump was made aware of the memo, reportedly telling aides “he was unhappy that Mr. Navarro had put his warning in writing.”
When asked on Tuesday about the memos after the Times first published a story detailing them, Trump responded, “I didn’t see them, but I heard he wrote some memos talking about pandemic. I didn’t see them. I didn’t look for them either.”April 11, 2020 at 10:51 pm #1203421781
Bernie Sanders drops out of the 2020 race, clearing Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination
(CNN) Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, clearing Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination and a showdown with President Donald Trump in November.
Sanders first made the announcement in a call with his staff, his campaign said.
“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth, and that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said in a livestream after the call. “So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”
Sanders’ exit caps a stunning reversal of fortune following a strong performance in the first three states that voted in February. The nomination appeared his for the taking until, on the last day of February, Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina that set off a consolidation of moderate voters around the former vice president.
The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections.
Sanders said he did not make the decision lightly, describing it as a “very difficult and painful decision.”
“Over the past few weeks Jane and I, in consultation with top staff, and many of our prominent supporters, have made an honest assessment of the prospects for victory. If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue the campaign. But it’s just not there,” he said.
Sanders’ departure from the race is a sharp blow to progressives, who rose up during and after the 2016 campaign and commanded the Democratic Party’s Trump era debates over issues like health care, climate change and the effects of growing economic inequality.
“Few would deny that over the course of the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle,” Sanders said on Wednesday. “It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today, they are mainstream ideas. Many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country.”
But even as his policies grew more popular over the years and into the primary season, the Vermont senator struggled to broaden his own support and galvanize a winning coalition. Now, as he did after leaving the 2016 primary, Sanders will seek to influence the presumptive nominee through the means he knows best — from the outside-in.April 17, 2020 at 8:34 am #1203432010
Justin Amash might run for president.
Is there an award for best news? I think I just won.
"It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument." - William Gibbs McAdooApril 18, 2020 at 12:46 am #1203433246
5 reasons you may not have gotten your stimulus money yet
Washington (CNN) About 80 million people were sent their stimulus payments this week — but if you weren’t one of them, it doesn’t mean you won’t get the money.
You’re one of roughly 60 million people still waiting. About 90% of Americans are eligible for the payments, which phase out for high-income earners, according to an estimate from the Tax Policy Center.
The Internal Revenue Service started by sending money to the people it could reach the fastest. This was anyone who had direct deposit information already on file with the agency because they were due a refund on either their 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns.
Others, like Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients, should receive the payments automatically soon, the IRS said this week.
Then, the agency will begin sending paper checks — with President Donald Trump’s signature — to those who haven’t authorized a direct deposit in the past two years.
On Wednesday, IRS officials said those checks should start going out next week, according to a Democratic congressional aide. But the agency can only process roughly 5 million checks a week, so it could take months before all of them are sent out.
Here are five reasons why you might not have received your money yet:
1. You didn’t get a federal tax refund in 2018 or 2019
Even if you filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes electronically, that doesn’t mean the IRS can direct-deposit the money into your bank account. You must have also received a refund in those years via direct deposit to get the money delivered automatically.
The IRS is not using bank account information it may have used to withdraw from your account if you owed money.
2. Your refund went to an old bank account
If you didn’t receive a refund in 2019, or haven’t filed yet, the IRS will use the bank account information used to send a refund for the 2018 tax year.
Some people told CNN that the money was sent to an account they have since closed and that the bank transferred the money back to the IRS. In that case, the payment will likely come later by a check in the mail.
A new IRS online tool, called Get My Payment, allows you to input new bank account information — but it’s only helpful if the agency doesn’t already have an account on file from a 2018 or 2019 tax return and hasn’t yet processed your stimulus payment.
Filing a 2019 return now, if you haven’t already done so, is the only way to update direct deposit information that the IRS has on file from a 2018 return. Tax Day was moved from the traditional April 15 to July 15 this year to give filers more time.
3. Your refund went to a temporary account set up by a tax preparer
You may not even realize it, but sometimes tax preparers set up a temporary account and that’s where your tax refund is deposited first. They take out their fees and then transfer the remaining money into your bank account or a debit card. Sometimes this is in the form of an advanced loan.
It may take longer for you to receive your stimulus money if that’s the case. When stimulus payments were sent out in 2008, this glitch affected about 20 million people. But they eventually received the money by a paper check.
Some people who used popular tax preparers like TurboTax and H&R Block and received a refund on a debit card told CNN that the IRS tool could not confirm the status of their payment when they checked this week.
H&R Block said on its website that it is still waiting for answers from the IRS, but that some people who have used its Emerald debit card will see their stimulus money transferred there.
TurboTax said the IRS has the appropriate banking information for all of its filers and that any of its customers who are eligible for a stimulus payment and had their refund transferred to a debit card will receive their payment without delays or fees.
4. You filed a paper return in 2019
Most people file electronically, but some still send in paper returns.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has many employees working remotely and has stopped processing paper returns until its centers are able to reopen.
If you didn’t get a refund directly deposited in 2018 and filed a paper return for 2019, you may be waiting for a paper check with your stimulus money.
5. You aren’t normally required to file a tax return
There are millions of low-income people who are not normally required to file tax returns that will have to take some action before receiving their stimulus money.
Generally, these are individuals who did not earn more than $12,200 last year or married couples who did not earn more than $24,400.
But they won’t have to file a whole new form, as earlier guidance from the IRS suggested. Instead, it created an online tool for non-filers that asks for basic information including names, date of births, and Social Security numbers for the person filing and his or her dependents. They won’t have to provide any income information.
The tool allows you to input bank account information for a direct deposit, or an address to receive a paper check.
How to check your status with the IRS:
On Wednesday, the IRS launched an online tool allowing people to check the status of their payment. While many people were pleased to see the money had been transferred to their bank account, others told CNN that they were frustrated to learn their payment status was not available.
Their statuses may be updated overnight, as the tool is updated daily. But otherwise, those people are left without any options but to keep checking. On its website, the IRS explicitly says not to call about the payments.
The agency is moving much more quickly than it did the last time it delivered stimulus payments in 2008. The coronavirus money was authorized by the $2.2 trillion congressional stimulus package that was signed into law three weeks ago.
The IRS tool may indicate that a person is eligible for the payment, but that it does not have direct deposit information on file. In that case, one can input their bank account information to receive the money more quickly, rather than waiting for a check in the mail.
CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this story.April 18, 2020 at 12:57 am #1203433273
Recovered coronavirus patients are testing positive again. Can you get reinfected?
Seoul (CNN) In South Korea, health officials are trying to solve a mystery: why 163 people who recovered from coronavirus have retested positive, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The same has been recorded in China, where some coronavirus patients tested positive after seeming to recover, although there are no official figures.
That raises the question: can you get reinfected with coronavirus?
In South Korea, the proportion of cases that retest positive is low — of the 7,829 people who have recovered from coronavirus there, 2.1% retested positive, the KCDC said Friday. It is not clear how many of the people who have recovered have been tested again.
But patients retesting positive is still a concern around the world, including in countries like South Korea where authorities appear to have brought the outbreak under control.
Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the Covid-19 coronavirus from a foreign passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon international airport, west of Seoul, on April 1, 2020.
Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the Covid-19 coronavirus from a foreign passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon international airport, west of Seoul, on April 1, 2020.
KCDC deputy director Kwon Joon-wook said that so far, there’s no indication that patients who retest positive are contagious, even though about 44% of them showed mild symptoms.
But he cautioned there is still a lot scientists don’t know about the virus, including the issue of naturally acquired immunity.
“Covid-19 is the most challenging pathogen we may have faced in recent decades,” Kwon said. “It is a very difficult and challenging enemy.”
Finding remnants of the virus?
For now, the most likely explanation of why people are retesting positive seems to be that the test is picking up remnants of the virus.
The KCDC has re-investigated three cases from the same family where patients tested positive after recovering, Kwon says.
A coronavirus test can be developed in 24 hours. So why are some countries still struggling to diagnose?
In each of these cases, scientists tried to incubate the virus but weren’t able to — that told them there was no live virus present.
Like many countries, South Korea uses a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to test for the virus.
The RT-PCR test works by finding evidence of a virus’s genetic information — or RNA — in a sample taken from the patient.
According to Kwon, these tests may still be picking up parts of the RNA even after the person has recovered because the tests are so sensitive.
“That’s one possible and very strong explanation,” he said.
The same theory was posited by one of China’s top respiratory experts, Zhong Nanshan. In a press conference earlier this week, he said that a recovered person can test positive because fragments of the disease remained in their body.
“I’m not too worried about this issue,” he added.
What are some of the other explanations?
There are other theories for why patients may be retesting positive: there might be an error with the test, or the virus could have been reactivated.
If there’s an error with the test, patients may be getting false negatives or false positives. There are a number of reasons why this could happen, including issues with the chemicals used in the test and the possibility that the virus is mutating in such a way that it is not being identified by the test.
A medical staff member in a booth takes samples from a visitor for the Covid-19 coronavirus test at a walk-thru testing station set up at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul on April 3, 2020.
A medical staff member in a booth takes samples from a visitor for the Covid-19 coronavirus test at a walk-thru testing station set up at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul on April 3, 2020.
In a public briefing, Kwon said it was unlikely testing would have errors. However, he said scientists have been screening patients who tested positive again, to make sure that their positive result wasn’t just an issue with the test. “We need more further investigation,” he added.
For now, the KCDC is investigating the remaining cases to get a more conclusive answer.
The changing results can be frustrating for patients. Jin Kim, who is hospitalized in the South Korean city of Daejeon, tested positive for coronavirus on March 25 — this week he tested negative, but a day later he tested positive again. The 25-year-old will have to take another two tests at least, as he needs two consecutive negative tests to be declared recovered.
Once he’s discharged from hospital, the government recommends he isolates for two weeks.
Can a person who has retested positive infect others?
Kwon says there is no evidence so far of a person who has retested positive being infectious, adding: “At the moment, we think that there is no danger of further secondary or tertiary transmission.”
That’s also a concern weighing on the minds of people in the US.
Responding to a question about patients retesting positive at the CNN Town Hall on Thursday night, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the jury was still out on whether a person who had recovered could still shed infectious RNA strands.
“That’s a question that’s still outstanding — it hasn’t been answered in the studies to date, although people are really working on that now and culturing the virus and seeing if that potential exists,” she added.
After coronavirus patients are declared recovered, the KCDC recomends two more weeks of self-isolation. In an article published in BMJ medical journal this week, Sung-Il Cho, a professor of epidemiology at the Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, also advised discharged patients to remain isolated or quarantined for a while to make sure there’s no re-detection of the virus.
What does this mean for antibodies?
When a person is recovering from a virus, their body produces antibodies.
Antibodies are important because they can prevent a person from being reinfected with the same virus, as the body already knows how to fight the disease.
The number of recovered patients who have retested positive for the virus has raised concerns about how antibodies work in response to Covid-19.
When asked Thursday whether it was possible for someone to get reinfected, Birx replied: “In biology, you never want to say that that’s not possible.”
She said they had seen coronavirus patients appear to recover and develop antibodies, but there was always the possibility of outliers who did not develop antibodies to the virus. “Those outliers always exist, but right now we don’t have (any) evidence that that’s a common thing that we see,” she said.
The KCDC plans to test 400 specimens from people who have been infected and recovered to see how much–if any–immunity having Covid-19 might give people. Kwon says those tests may take several weeks.
In the end, Kwon said, it comes down to this: “We don’t know much about Covid-19.”
CNN’s Shawn Deng and Jake Kwon contributed to this report.April 18, 2020 at 9:21 am #1203433719
Amash voted for impeachment and has the credibility of Mitt Romney.
Those are both excellent points as to why he is great.
He has a snowflakes chance in Hell and is a Democrat in disguise, like that McCain asshole.
I will admit the former is probably true. The latter is plainly ridiculous. Amash is the most conservative member of the House. While I respect John McCain greatly and disagree with your assessment of him, a comparison between him and Amash is nonsense. They didn’t even like each other very much.
(We are allowed to debate politics in this thread, right? Or are we just supposed to share news stories? Don’t want to accidentally break any rules, LOL)
"It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument." - William Gibbs McAdoo
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