The Latest: Officials urge action to address price gouging
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 190,000 people and killed more than 7,500. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 80,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
The chair of the House Judiciary Committee and other Democratic leaders of the panel have asked federal regulators to take immediate action to protect consumers from price gouging in the pandemic.
In a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t specify what measures the FTC should take, but promised to pursue legislation if needed to bolster the agency’s efforts.
Concern over hoarding and price-gouging for medical masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectants has risen around the country. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, for example, said Tuesday his office has received over 70 complaints.
The largest retail and entertainment center in the U.S. shut down Tuesday in support of Minnesota’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by discouraging people from gathering.
The Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, which draws visitors from across the country and around the world, closed its doors at 5 p.m. Tuesday and said they’ll remain shut through at least March 31. It cited orders from Gov. Tim Walz that are aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday night said the state has reported its first positive case of the new coronavirus, meaning that all 50 states have now confirmed cases.
Justice said the confirmed case is in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, an area close to Washington, D.C. He did not immediately disclose the county where the illness occurred.
Turkey has reported the country’s first death from the new coronavirus.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late Tuesday that the first casualty is an 89-year-old male patient who contracted the virus from an employee who had “contacts with China.”
Koca also reported 51 new COVID-19 cases in the country, raising the overall number of infections to 98.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced Tuesday the suspension of all land, air and sea traffic with the North African nation in a bid to contain the coronavirus.
In an address to the nation, he significantly forbid public gatherings, including marches, meaning that weekly Friday marches of a pro-democracy movement will have to stop for now.
The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit over Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s decision to set a new state primary election date.
It said in its filing Tuesday that power rests only with the Legislature. But politicians on both sides of the aisle are expressing frustration after the primary was postponed until June 2 because of coronavirus concerns.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the decision late Monday after a judge ruled against his request that in-person voting be delayed to avoid crowding at polling places. Messages were left seeking comment from LaRose and the state attorney general, who represents him.
The Australian government is giving the nation’s ailing airlines a 715 million Australian dollar ($430 million) lifeline to help the sector through the new coronavirus pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Wednesday local time that a range of government charges will be refunded and waived to help airlines under pressure as domestic and global travel plummet.
The government will forgo fuel tax, air service charges and regional security fees. The move is expected to create an initial benefit of AU$159 million, with the government refunding charges paid since Feb. 1.
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has announced a nationwide curfew in the North African country.
In a tweet from the official presidential Twitter account, it said there would be a lockdown “from six o’clock in the evening until six o’clock in the morning.”
Saied addressed the Tunisian people Tuesday to announce the adoption of exceptional measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tunisia previously suspended all international flights and closed its borders in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The National Park Service said the Pearl Harbor National Memorial has closed temporarily following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials.
The site includes the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors the 1,177 Marines and sailors killed when their battleship sank during the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The memorial normally receives about 1.8 million visitors each year.
At least 17 elders from a Madrid nursing home have died in the past five days, city authorities said.
The Spanish capital’s regional authorities acknowledged late Tuesday that 17 people have died at the nursing home. The announcement came after worried relatives turned to the media to reveal a cluster of the new coronavirus that they fear may have infected many others.
The Canadian province of Alberta is declaring a state of public emergency and has announced that any gathering larger than 50 people must be cancelled.
Public recreation facilities, casinos, bingo halls, bars, museums and art galleries will also be shuttered if not already. The province already cancelled schools.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a “serious moment in our history.”
Montenegro announced its first cases of the new coronavirus on Tuesday.
The small country across the Adriatic Sea from Italy had been free of the new coronavirus up until this point.
Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said at a press conference that two women, who had been to the U.S. and Spain, have tested positive for the virus.
The mayor of Detroit pledged to hire more people to clean city buses and announced free rides during the coronavirus crisis after residents suddenly were stranded Tuesday when drivers anxious about illness didn’t report to work.
Bus service was canceled shortly after 8 a.m. in the metropolis of Michigan due to a shortage of drivers.
Service will resume Wednesday. Besides extra cleaning crews, the mayor said passengers will be asked to board and exit buses through the rear door. An average of 85,000 people ride Detroit buses daily.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office immediately pushed back on the idea of a shelter-in-place order for the city, reiterating that it cannot be done without the state’s permission and that “there is no consideration” of issuing one.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Tuesday that residents should be prepared for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order within days.
Belgium has ordered further lockdown measures starting Wednesday, following in the steps of European neighbors Italy, Spain and France.
Belgian Prime minister Sophie Wilmes said Belgian residents should stay at home and avoid contacts at the maximum. They will still be allowed to run errands, to go to work if working remotely is not an option, and to physically exercise outdoors accompanied by one person.
All “non essential” businesses including clothing shops will be closed, while trips outside Belgium and gatherings of people have been banned until April 5. Book shops will remain open.
New York City residents should be prepared for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order within days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
De Blasio said no decision had been made yet, but he wants city and state officials to make a decision within 48 hours, given the fast spread of the coronavirus.
“New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter in place order,” de Blasio said at a news briefing.
Officials in six San Francisco Bay-area counties issued a “shelter-in-place” order that went into effect Tuesday, requiring nearly 7 million residents to stay inside and venture out only for food, medicine or exercise for three weeks.
___ Serbia has introduced a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew for all citizens and banned people older than 65 from leaving their households as part of an emergency law intended to fight the spread of coronavirus in the Balkan country.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced Europe’s harshest measures Tuesday, saying there are intended to save lives.
He said that the army is taking over hospitals, border checkpoints, and 17 immigration centers in Serbia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Tuesday that European leaders agreed in a conference call to the Commission’s proposal for an entry ban to the bloc, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Britain, with “very, very limited exceptions” for 30 days. Germany will implement the decision immediately.
Countries also agreed to coordinate the repatriation of EU citizens stranded outside the bloc, she said.
Trading on the Mexican Stock Exchange was halted for 15 minutes after the key index fell by 7.12%, triggering an automatic halt.
The fall contrasted with sharp gains in U.S. markets happening at the same time.
Italy, the second hardest-hit nation after China in the world’s coronavirus pandemic, has announced a new figures that show it has one-third of the world’s total deaths from the new virus.
Italy on Tuesday added more than 3,500 new positive cases, bringing its total to 31,506. In addition, another 345 people with the virus have died, bringing Italy’s total deaths to 2,503.
Italy, which has the world’s second-oldest population after Japan, has been blindsided by the virus that appears to be much more deadly for the elderly and the infirm.
Spain, the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world’s coronavirus pandemic, has requested medical supplies from China.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke Tuesday as Beijing was preparing its first shipment of aid to the European country, according to the Chinese embassy in Madrid.
Sánchez said the call for Chinese aid had been made a week earlier and that it was a subject he discussed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone call on Tuesday.
A spokesman from China’s embassy in Spain said Beijing was readying a shipment of test kits, surgical masks and protection glasses. The official, who was not authorized to be named in media reports, said that China was also “positively considering” sending doctors to Spain.
Spain has 11,309 confirmed infections and has seen 509 deaths.
The Trump administration is urging U.S. construction companies to donate their inventories of safety masks to hospitals and forgo new orders as the nation battles the coronavirus pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence said the single-use N95 masks, which are designed to filter 95% of airborne particles and commonly used in the construction industry, are “perfectly acceptable” for hospital use.
South Africa says a cruise ship has been quarantined outside the port of Cape Town as a precaution after a crew member of a cargo ship who shared a flight with some passengers showed coronavirus symptoms.
The Trump admiration is allowing Americans to delay paying their taxes and is hoping to send stimulus checks directly to people as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is encouraging Americans who can to file their taxes on or before April 15 to do so so that they don’t lose out on their tax refunds.
But he says that, if Americans owe the IRS money, they can defer up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for corporations without interest and penalties for 90 days.
President Donald Trump and Mnuchin also say during a White House briefing that they want to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic impact of the pandemic.
Across the United States, over 4,660 people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus and 95 people have died.
Doctors in government-owned hospitals in Nigeria’s federal capital Abuja have gone on an indefinite strike over unpaid salaries as the country sees its third confirmed case of the new coronavirus.
Roland Aigbovo, head of a doctors’ group, said the decision to go on strike was a difficult one after considering the challenge coronavirus poses. But he said some newly employed doctors have not been paid for “five to seven months.”
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration says at least eight airport screening officers have now tested positive for the new coronavirus. The most recent case was confirmed Tuesday at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
On Monday, a screening officer tested positive for the virus at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The previous cases were at airports in San Jose, California; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in Florida.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is leaving London and heading to Windsor Castle as a precaution because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Buckingham Palace says the 93-year-old monarch will move to the castle, 20 miles (32 kms) west of London, on Thursday, a week earlier than she usually does for Easter.
The palace said it had decided to cancel or postpone public royal events with large numbers of people in the coming months but the queen will still hold her weekly audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
This year’s European Championship soccer tournament has been postponed for one year, upending a tradition dominates European life for a full month every four years.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says the spreading coronavirus “makes football and all life in Europe quite impossible.” UEFA plans to play the tournament next year from June 11 to July 11.
Brazil has recorded its first death related to the new coronavirus outbreak, according to Sao Paulo state’s government. Authorities do not know where the patient was infected. Brazil has 234 confirmed cases of the virus, more than half in Sao Paulo.
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