CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to 383,256 and the death toll stands at 12,021, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. New York state reported 731 new deaths to raise the state’s total to 5,489, although hospitalizations declined, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he “inked a deal” for the state to buy 200 million masks a month. The governor said the masks will serve the need for his state and others in the West. Newsom complained that he experienced price-gouging while competing against other states, the federal government and other nations for masks.
TRUMP THREATENS WHO FUNDING… President Trump warned yesterday that his administration is prepared to withhold money from the World Health Organization. The president criticized the organization’s handling of the virus despite having refused test kits the WHO offered before the outbreak reached the U.S. The WHO declared a public health emergency on January 30 and a global pandemic on March 11. Trump called the organization “China-centric.”
MNUCHIN WANTS MORE SMALL-BUSINESS FUNDING… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed yesterday that he has discussed adding an additional $250 billion to funding for small-business loans in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Mnuchin says he discussed the supplemental funding with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat; and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California. The Small Business Administration has begun processing loans following the program’s launch on Friday.
NAVY SECRETARY RESIGNS… Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned yesterday amid continuing backlash over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. After firing the carrier’s commander, Captain Brett Crozier, for expressing concerns about the outbreak in a letter that leaked to media, Modly called Captain Crozier’s actions “naive” and “stupid.” Modly’s resignation came after he apologized for his remarks. Army Undersecretary James McPherson is expected to replace Modly.
4 DEAD AFTER STABBINGS IN TENNESSEE… Sheriffs in Knox County, Tennessee, fatally a shot a man who fatally stabbed three people and injured a fourth at a truck stop yesterday. Officials say deputies who arrived on the scene opened fire on the suspect after he refused to put down the weapon. The suspect was identified as a 33-year-old male truck driver from Durham, North Carolina. The three deceased victims were women employed at the truck stop.
JOHN PRINE DIES… Two-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Prine died yesterday at a Nashville hospital of coronavirus. He was 73. Prine’s songs included “Angel from Montgomery” made popular by Bonnie Raitt. Other artists who covered Prine’s sings included George Strait, Carly Simon, Johnny Cash, Bette Midler and dozens of others. Prine was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
R, KELLY DENIED RELEASE… A federal judge yesterday denied R. Kelly’s request to be released from federal custody due to fears of the coronavirus outbreak. The judge ruled the request lacked merit since there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where Kelly is being held. The 53-year-old singer, born Robert Kelly, cited a recent surgery during his time in prison as a condition for his release. He didn’t convince the judge that the procedure places him at a greater risk of illness, however.
MIXED REVIEW TO BASEBALL’S PLANNED RE-OPENING… ESPN reports that there is a mixed reaction among players to Major League Baseball’s reported plan to start the 2020 regular season in Arizona once quarantines are limited. The plan would leave teams sequestered, the schedule would include multiple games daily played on minor league fields outside in the desert heat and there’d be no fans. Some players didn’t approve of an arrangement that keeps them apart from their families but others welcomed the adventure.