Chicago works to reach more black residents amid outbreak

CHICAGO (AP) — The number of black Chicago residents becoming infected with the coronavirus and those dying of the disease remains disproportionately high, city officials said Monday.

Black residents made up about 46% of the 12,571 confirmed tests for the coronavirus and about 60% of the 500 deaths in the city linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, despite making up 30% of the city’s population.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city and neighborhood organizations working to share information about the virus and preventing its spread are focused on three neighborhoods: Auburn Gresham, South Shore and Austin.

Health conditions that are more common among African Americans can make people more vulnerable to the virus, including diabetes and asthma. Experts also have pointed to higher uninsured rates and poorer access to health care among African Americans as an underlying cause of the gap.

Overall in the state, 31,508 people have tested positive as of Monday afternoon, a one-day increase of 1,151 cases, according to Illinois’ public health director. The death toll increased by 59 to 1,349.

Among those who have died was a Cook County Sheriff’s Office correctional officer. The department said Officer Sheila Rivera, 47, died on Sunday as a result of complications due to the virus. Rivera, an eight-year veteran of the department who was most recently assigned to the jail’s Residential Treatment Unit.

“The Sheriff’s Office considers her death to be in the line of duty and will be strongly advocating that her family receive all the benefits that designation affords,” the department said in a news release Monday announcing her death.

Rivera was one of 191 correctional officers who tested positive.

Four detainees who tested positive for the virus have died. As of late Sunday, the sheriff’s office said 194 detainees with “mild-to-moderate” symptoms were being treated by the county-operated hospital, located at the jail, with an additional 21 being treated at area hospitals.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

An analysis done by The Associated Press using available state and local data through Thursday showed that nearly one-third of those who have died are African American, with black people representing about 14% of the population in the areas covered in the analysis.

Federal data on race remains limited, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said 30% of patients to test positive for coronavirus and whose race was known were black. Racial information was missing for 75% of all cases, however, and the CDC did not include any breakdown on those who have died.

Lightfoot said Monday that maps showing higher rates of coronavirus cases and deaths in Chicago’s black and brown communities “illuminated the broken, and yes, racist system of inequality” that has cemented poverty and related issues for decades.

“We cannot sit idly by while this disease devastates certain parts of our communities,” she said.

Lightfoot said more than 60,000 face coverings will be distributed along with informational door hangers and flyers that are aimed at people who are older than 60, those who work essential jobs and those who share homes with multiple generations of family members.

The city is also planning a series of virtual town halls and an advertising campaign.

Earlier Monday, a northern Illinois nursing home where 22 residents have died announced the death of a second staffer.

Symphony of Joliet spokeswoman Lauryn Allison said that privacy laws prevented her from providing any more information. But Lakendel Evans told The (Joliet) Herald-News that her mother, Sandra Green, a 57-year-old certified nursing assistant, died at a Joliet hospital after spending 24 days on a ventilator.

Symphony of Joliet has been a focus amid the growing number of cases at the state’s long-term care facilities, and the city’s mayor has called for a state investigation of the facility.

Data released by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration over the weekend showed that Symphony of Joliet and Windsor Manor of Carol Stream each had 81 COVID-19 cases, more than any such facility in Illinois. The data also showed that 286 coronavirus-related deaths — nearly a quarter of the state’s total — were linked to long-term care facilities.


Associated Press writer John O’Connor contributed from Springfield, Illinois.

Courier exclusive: Blacks account for 22 percent of all coronavirus hospitalizations in Allegheny County

by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer

As the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in Allegheny County, the New Pittsburgh Courier has spotted a disturbing, but not surprising trend — African Americans here are being affected at a higher rate than its county population percentage makeup.

Following an outcry in the past two weeks from Black community leaders in Pittsburgh demanding that accurate racial data on coronavirus cases in Allegheny County and Pennsylvania would begin, Allegheny County responded almost immediately with the racial data.

But because many of the early COVID-19 test results that come to the Allegheny County Health Department through the Pa. National Electronic Disease Surveillance System didn’t contain information on race, the county doesn’t have racial data on roughly 380 positive cases in the county. However, the county was able to compile that out of the 650 cases for which race is known, 159 of the cases were African Americans, as of Sunday, April 19.

The county was able to track the racial data more closely for those who’ve been hospitalized or died in the county from coronavirus.

As of April 19, at least 39 of the 180 hospitalizations in the county were African Americans, or 22 percent. One hundred twenty-five hospitalizations were Whites, three were classified as Asian, and 16 were unknown.

Only two African Americans had died out of the 24 total deaths in Allegheny County, according to the Health Department, as of April 13. But as the number of deaths reported took a sizable jump between April 14 and April 19, there are now at least seven African Americans in the county who’ve died from coronavirus, out of 50 total deaths (14 percent), as of Sunday, April 19. White deaths totaled 28, and 15 deaths were classified as unknown.

African Americans compose roughly 12 percent of Allegheny County.

As of Sunday, April 19, there were 32,284 total positive cases of coronavirus in the state of Pennsylvania, with 1,112 total deaths. The state recently began tracking the racial data of its cases, and while there’s no racial data on 23,570 cases, the remaining 8,704 positive cases revealed that 2,792 of those were African Americans and 5,523 were Whites. Two hundred ninety were Asians and 109 were classified as other. The state doesn’t have racial data for nearly 500 deaths. But of the 623 deaths for which race is known, 150 were African Americans, 375 were Whites, 14 were Asian, and 109 were classified as other.

“It seems to be generally agreed upon that the extreme poverty rates in African American communities across the country, along with the health care disparities, high levels of diabetes, respiratory problems, hypertension, and the more crowded living conditions in many of these neighborhoods, contribute to many individuals within Black communities to be more vulnerable to attacks from the coronavirus,” read a letter signed by Tim Stevens, Chairman & CEO of The Black Political Empowerment Project, Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Richard A. Stewart Jr., President, NAACP Pittsburgh branch, and Jasiri X, CEO/Co-Founder, 1 HOOD Media. “These factors, which are certainly in existence throughout Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Pennsylvania, and the reports listed above, cause us to call upon our political leaders to take this opportunity to do whatever must be done to provide statistics with regard to racial breakdown relative to the impact of coronavirus and to use this virus as another opportunity to begin to identify solutions to the ongoing disparities based on race.”

The letter, sent to Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council members, also read: “With the echoes of the Sept. 17, 2019, report released by the University of Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh and its Gender Equity Commission still in our minds, which vividly described the racial inequities in the City of Pittsburgh when compared to other cities across the nation, and the report of 2010 which listed the Pittsburgh Region as 40th out of 40 regions in the nation with regard to the conditions of Black children and the Black working poor still in our memories, we feel the time is now to analyze ‘the why’ of these devastating conditions.”

The New Pittsburgh Courier reported in its April 8 edition the vast, disproportionate figures that were revealed pertaining to Blacks and COVID-19 throughout the country. And in the Courier’s April 15 edition, the data made available at the time (as of April 14) saw African Americans in the county seeing a far less death rate from coronavirus when compared to their overall population percentage in the county. That bucked a trend of Blacks dying at a much higher rate in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Detroit.

However, the latest data from Allegheny County shows that as of Sunday, April 19, Blacks are being affected in Allegheny County from COVID-19 at an increasing rate than its population percentage makeup. With at least seven of the 50 deaths in Allegheny County being African Americans (at least 14 percent) and at least 159 of the 1,035 cases in the county (at least 15 percent), both percentages are higher than the 12 percent Black makeup of Allegheny County. It’s an even higher number for hospitalizations, as Blacks in the county account for at least 22 percent of all hospitalizations.

Rob Taylor Jr. is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Thomas’ wounded Christ is a savior for the COVID-19 crisis

(RNS) — Is it possible to speak of new life in an Easter season marred by ongoing death? The question feels new as we reckon with the novel coronavirus, but it is not.

Christian communities have always affirmed faith in resurrection in spite of enduring loss and bereavement. For communities on the margins, especially those subjected to oppression and enslavement, faith in resurrection has never been a Pollyannaish refusal of suffering and death. The Christian symbol of resurrection admits many readings, but any magical interpretation that minimizes pain could neither console nor encourage.

The grittiness of the resurrection narrative is captured in the reading from John’s Gospel many churches traditionally read the Sunday after Easter. John tells the story of the apostle Thomas, who misses Jesus’ first post-crucifixion appearance to the gathered disciples. When they tell him what transpired, “doubting Thomas” earns the moniker he has been saddled with ever since: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later, Jesus obliges. “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

A person is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center after going through testing for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

What is often overlooked in this story is the very fact that Jesus’ resurrected body bears the wounds of crucifixion. In John’s Gospel, Thomas recognizes Christ not in spite of but because of his wounds. Without the wounds, the resurrected one might be an uncanny apparition but not Thomas’ beloved master.

No contemporary Christian theologian has called attention to Christ’s wounds more persistently and creatively than Shelly Rambo. In her groundbreaking 2017 book, “Resurrecting Wounds: Living in the Afterlife of Trauma,” Rambo likens Christ’s abiding wounds to the ongoing pain of war veterans who have suffered trauma but whose lives allow for no neat and tidy resolution under the grip of PTSD. She rejects accounts that depict resurrection as an unblemished victory.

To take this feature of John’s Gospel seriously is to suggest that even God incarnate does not survive the world God created unscathed. Life in time and history, life as a finite and vulnerable creature, leaves its marks.

Tragically, those marks are unevenly distributed. As we are learning from the exorbitant death rates among African Americans, systematic racism continues to crucify some while others shelter in relative safety. To use the language of the liberation theologian Ignacio Ellacuría, some among us are “the crucified peoples of history” while others profit from crucifying structures.

A resurrected Christ who still bears his wounds is the only credible savior for our times. A Jesus who is no longer broken open to the world is a trivializing vision that fails to acknowledge the cost of life in a world replete with inequality. For those on the underside of this crisis, a Christ without the marks of his crucifixion would be unrecognizable. Resurrection gives us strength to bear our wounds, not erase them.

Sculpture of St. Thomas reaching out to touch the risen Christ from the medieval polychromed choir screen of Notre Dame de Paris. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

As for those who live in relative safety and privilege, Christ’s wounded body calls us to prophetic attention. Christians cannot claim to follow the crucified Lord while ignoring contemporary crucifixions. His broken body compels us to put an end to wounds still inflicted by racism, poverty and unequal access to health care.

Whatever new life will look like in the coming months and years, a genuine Easter hope will refuse the complacent longing for “a return to normal.” Who wants such normalcy when it has resulted in global failure at every level of common life, in politics, ecology, economy and healthcare? Only those who continue to profit from those broken systems.

To be tutored by the Christian resurrection story is to see through the hollow impulse to cling to an obsolete world. Genuine resurrection is no zombie resuscitation where old patterns return only to lumber along undead.

The deadliest of those patterns is the refusal to acknowledge our complex and precarious rootedness in nature. A virus, 120 nanometers in diameter, has brought human civilization to a grinding halt. It mocks our pretense that we can somehow survive while ignoring the natural word and without care for the fragile ecosystems that keep us alive. The wounded earth also awaits resurrection.

Call me a doubter, but, like Thomas, I, too, doubt any talk of Easter hope that dismisses the wounds of this historical moment. Nor will I believe if I see no signs of a new world that is kinder, more just and more resilient. No zombie normalcy for me, thank you!

Can such a world emerge from this crisis? I believe so. That confidence is what it means to have faith not just in Jesus’ resurrection but in ours.

(John J. Thatamanil is associate professor of theology and world religions at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He is the author of the forthcoming, “Circling the Elephant: A Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

White House: Data On COVID-19 And Race Still Weeks Away

Data on race and COVID-19 won’t be released by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until early May, said Seema Verma, CMS administrator. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images hide caption

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Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Data on race and COVID-19 won’t be released by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until early May, said Seema Verma, CMS administrator.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Trump administration is having to backtrack on when it can provide data on the race of COVID-19 patients.

Right now, there’s no clear national picture of how the coronavirus is affecting people of different races. Some states are releasing this information, and there’s some data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What little data there are is concerning. For one, African Americans represent a third of all deaths from COVID-19, even though they represent only 13% of the national population.

A fuller national picture of how COVID-19 is affecting people of different races was promised by the Trump administration at the press briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 7, specifically from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

THE PRESIDENT:  Why is it that the African American community is so much, you know, numerous times more than everybody else?  And we want to find the reason to it.  And Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [of the National Institutes of Health], [CMS Administrator] Seema [Verma], both of them and others are working on this, and they’re going to have very good — I would say over the next — in less than a week —


THE PRESIDENT:  — I think you’re going to have very good statistics.


THE PRESIDENT:  Couple of days.

Now, CMS Administrator Verma says those data won’t be released until early May. She spoke on a teleconference with reporters on Monday.

Her explanation? COVID-19 only got its own claims code on April 1, and the administration need a month’s worth of claims data to provide a meaningful look at the race of COVID patients.

She said that with health care providers — especially those who are currently overwhelmed — there is often a lag between when they treat the patient and when they submit claims. “We are just starting to get that information in,” Verma said. “What we saw in the first week wasn’t significant enough or we think it would have been misleading to put that data out.”

But, she added, “you’ll be seeing a comprehensive analysis of our claims data starting in early May, based on the first month of claims data that we do have.”

Gov. Taps Diverse Group for COVID-19 Recovery Task Force

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(CBM) – “It’s been like tons, or gallons, of alcohol, was thrown on the open wounds of inequality and racism in this country. And as we think about how to recover, we’re going to have to think about how to make sure that we don’t go back to where we were before,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, an African-American author and policy specialist based in Oakland.

(1.) Governor Gavin Newsom, (2.)Dr. Robert Ross: President & CEO, California Endowment (3).Ken McNeely: President, Western Region, AT&T (4.) Gregory A. Adams: Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. & Hospitals (5.)Stacy Brown-Philpot: CEO, TaskRabbit (6.)April Verrett: President, SEIU 2015 (7.)Willie Adams: President, ILWU (8.) Lee Saunders: President, AFSCME (9.) Angela Glover Blackwell: Founder in Residence, PolicyLink (10.) James Manyika: Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company (11.)Lloyd Dean: CEO, Dignity Health (12.) E. Toby Boyd: President, California Teachers Association

Blackwell is the founder and president of the non-profit PolicyLink, a research institute and social action organization that advances racial and economic equity, according to the group’s website.

“It was unacceptable then and it will be unacceptable going forward,” Blackwell continued, pointing out the “painful” economic and health disparities the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare across the United States and here in California.

She was speaking Friday during Gov. Gavin Newsom’s daily COVID-19 press conference in Sacramento. During the briefing, the governor announced that he has appointed Blackwell and 79 other prominent Californians to the state Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.

The governor said he is charging the diverse group of social, political and economic leaders to analyze every sector of the state economy and put together a road map to economic recovery. Newsom says he expects the task force to come up with “short-term, medium-term and long-term ideas” to put California on track to once again attain the level of economic prosperity the state had reached before the pandemic: 21 consecutive months of job growth; a $20 billion budget surplus in 2019; and 20 billion more stacked away in the state reserves.

“I have asked and tasked some of the best and brightest minds that we could source — a disproportionate number, almost exclusively, reside right here in the state of California – some of the most well-known business leaders in the world. The great social justice lawyers reside here in the state of California. Tribal leaders. Health care leaders. Small business leaders.”

Tom Steyer, the billionaire businessman, civic leader, and former US presidential candidate will co-chair the task force along with Gov. Newsom’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary.

Other African-American task force members include Gregory A. Adams, Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and hospitals; Willie Adams, President, International Longshore and Warehouse Union; E. Toby Boyd: President, California Teachers Association; Stacy Brown-Philpot: CEO, TaskRabbit; Dr. Robert Ross: President and CEO, The California Endowment; among others. See the full list of members.

The impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic in California has been deep and far-reaching, hitting the finances, health, and way of life of people across class, race, and geographical lines, but especially so among African Americans and other people of color.


At press time, the coronavirus had claimed the lives of more than one thousand Californians, and more than 28,000 more across the state had been infected by the deadly virus – with the largest concentration, more than 11,000 people, diagnosed in Los Angeles County alone.

Based on racial data the state has collected so far on mortality rates, a disproportionate number of Black Californians have died from COVID-19: About 12 percent in a state where African Americans account for 6 percent of the total population of nearly 40 million people.

About 95 people died of COVID-19 Thursday, the deadliest day since the onset of the pandemic, and a day before the governor announced his economic recovery task force appointments.

Last week, the governor also announced that the state is officially in a “pandemic-induced recession.”

“This pandemic has forced millions of Californians out of jobs – with the most vulnerable hit the hardest,” he said. “We will use a gradual, science-based and data-driven framework to guide our re-opening timing while planning our economic recovery.”

More than 3.1 million Californians have filed for unemployment insurance since March 12, and the state unemployment rate has spiked to 5.3% from under 3% just two months ago. Before the onset of the pandemic, about 2,500 people applied weekly, on average, for unemployment insurance. Over the last few weeks, that weekly average has jumped to more than 200,000.

“This is an amazing moment despite all the suffering,” Blackwell said. “The silver lining could be to finally understand that we cannot go forward as a nation divided as we have been between haves and have nots.”

Other members the governor appointed to the task force are California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles), Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido), former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman Bob Iger, former head of the Small Business Administration Aida Álvarez and dozens of other Californians from sectors, including business, labor, health care, academia and philanthropy.

Gov. Newsom also appointed the state’s four living former governors as honorary members on the task force. They are Hon. Jerry Brown, Hon. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hon. Gray Davis and Hon. Pete Wilson.

“We need to demonstrate for the nation that it is possible to have a recovery that is transformative, imaginative and radical,” Blackwell emphasized.

By Tanu Henry | California Black Media

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Beware of Politicians Who Declare “War” on the Coronavirus



Beware of Politicians Who Declare “War” on the Coronavirus

Leaders are turning to battlefield metaphors. But it’s your civil liberties that are under attack.

“America strikes the first defensive blow in the battle of the Central Pacific.” There’s something deeply nostalgic about the Second World War, isn’t there? Something comforting about calling back to our finest hour. These guys definitely think so. “It’s a war.” “We are fighting a war on two fronts.” “Nous sommes en guerre.” “We must act like any wartime government.” Yes, apparently, we are at war. Except it’s not Germans we’re fighting this time — it’s germs. But while there are similarities, we should be alarmed when politicians talk like this. It opens windows for flagrant abuses of power. And just weeks into this crisis, it’s already happening. “In World War II, young people in their teenage years volunteered to fight. They wanted to fight so badly.” War is a convenient model for politicians because it conjures up images of a nation making collective sacrifice for a great cause. “And now it’s our time, we must sacrifice —” Which is exactly what they’re asking us to do. But this idea of the country uniting in the face of an existential threat is much more of a myth than we like to admit — a myth born in propaganda and raised on 75 years of patriotic war movies. “All right, saddle up! Let’s back in the war!” Far from being united, Americans were divided about whether to even join the war. Even as France fell to the Nazis, polls showed two-thirds of people were against entering the fight. And let’s not even mention the 20,000 Americans who turned up to Nazi rallies like this one. Nope — despite what the politicians say, war really means division. Wars need enemies, preferably human ones. The 1940s saw a series of measures which quietly deprived Americans of their liberties, all in the name of war. Days after Pearl Harbor, F.D.R. created the Office of Censorship, with the power to monitor private telegrams and telephone calls. And soon after, at least 110,000 Japanese-Americans, were shipped off to camps — all of it justified by wartime urgency. The drama of war lends itself to this kind of black-and-white thinking. Oversight goes down, corruption goes up. And if all of that sounds like an exaggeration, just remember the last time we rushed to call something a war when we didn’t have to. “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there.” In the months following 9/11, secret mass surveillance programs were approved to invade the privacy of ordinary Americans. Innocent Muslim Americans were detained, while thousands of suspects were held at Guantánamo Bay with no due process whatsoever. Look — the top- down restrictions during this pandemic are necessary if we stand a chance of limiting the death toll. But calling this pandemic a war — it’s a useful cover for a power grab. And it happens faster than you think. So politicians like war comparisons because they work in their favor. But you know, there is a way this could work in our favor, too. The coronavirus pandemic’s causing sudden dramatic social upheaval — you can already feel it, right? That sense that life won’t be the same again. And that’s something wars do, too. When they finally end, they create opportunities for rapid social reform. During the Second World War, six million women took on factory jobs while 1.2 million African-Americans served in the fight against fascism. After the war, both groups demanded equal rights with new fervor. And while the struggles took a long time and are still ongoing, the war accelerated them significantly. And take a look at this. Across the pond, F.D.R.‘s ally Winston Churchill, faced huge pressures for change from a nation sick and tired of poverty, unemployment and poor health. They demanded social security and universal health care. Now Churchill, a conservative, resisted. And get this — in an election in 1945, just twelve weeks after he literally defeated Hitler, he was voted out of office. The public wanted change, and they got it. Soon after, the National Health Service was born. Could this pandemic open a window of change for us, too? We’re only weeks in, and already, it’s revealing the inequalities at the heart of our system. Low-paid workers are risking their lives because they don’t get sick pay; undocumented migrants have no support while politicians profit from insider trading. And in the richest country in the world, the insane cost of treatment makes some Americans afraid to even get tested. When all this passes, we might discover that rare gift, a threshold where the status quo has been destroyed, the rules turned upside down, a system exposed as unfit for purpose, and a people who’ve been through hell and have had enough. And in that moment, what will we demand?

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Leaders are turning to battlefield metaphors. But it’s your civil liberties that are under attack.

When heads of state start using wartime rhetoric to talk about coronavirus, should that make us feel safer and more secure … or nervous? The above video essay argues that yes, this rhetoric is meant to conjure a sense of solidarity — which we desperately need — but it can also provide cover for eroding our civil liberties.

But there could be a silver lining to all this. While we should be careful of ceding control of our rights and liberties, maybe the inequities exposed through tragedy and collective hardship will make us ask: What world do we want to live in when all this has passed?

Adam Westbrook (@AdamWestbrook) is a producer with Opinion Video.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Congress Nears Deal for More Small Business Aid


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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provides an update on the state’s latest coronavirus statistics.CreditCredit…Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

Congress and the Trump administration near a deal on more small business aid.

A dispute over President Trump’s handling of coronavirus testing has emerged as one of the final sticking points standing in the way of an otherwise imminent agreement between Congress and the administration to provide $450 billion to replenish a small businesses loan program and provide more funding for hospitals.

Democrats are pushing to include a requirement in the measure, which includes $25 billion for testing, that the government establish a national testing strategy, a move that the Trump administration has so far resisted, according to people familiar with the ongoing negotiations who asked for anonymity to disclose details. Negotiators were also still haggling over the terms of the $300 billion in new aid for small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program, and a Democratic demand for funds for additional money for state and local governments.

A deal could come as soon as Monday, but the disagreement over a national testing strategy — which Democrats have said is crucial to combating the further spread of the coronavirus and allowing states to contemplate eventual reopening — could delay action.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, on CNN on Sunday gave broad outlines of a final package: $300 billion to replenish the emergency fund, called the Paycheck Protection Program; $50 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund; $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.

Mr. Mnuchin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told Republican senators in a conference call Sunday afternoon that they would not include additional aid for state and local governments — one of Democrats’ demands for the interim package — and President Trump told reporters “that will be in our next negotiation.”

In a separate television appearance on Sunday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, suggested negotiations were going well.

“We’ve made very good progress, and I’m very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning,” Mr. Schumer said, appearing shortly after Mr. Mnuchin on the CNN show “State of the Union.” Mr. Schumer said the White House was “going along with” some of the Democrats’ requests, “so we feel pretty good.”

But while Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, notified lawmakers that a vote in the House could come as early as Wednesday, it is unclear how quickly the two sides could reach agreement.

Senate leaders are hoping to approve any deal during a procedural session as early as this week in order to avoid having lawmakers back in Washington before their scheduled May 4 return — a maneuver that would require agreement from all 100 senators.

Maryland received thousands of tests from South Korea after the governor and his wife closed a deal with labs.

ImageGov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said a lack of testing was the “No. 1 problem” facing his state.
Credit…Susan Walsh/Associated Press

When Mr. Trump told governors that they needed to step up their efforts to secure medical supplies, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, took the entreaty seriously and negotiated with suppliers in South Korea to obtain coronavirus test kits.

“The No. 1 problem facing us is lack of testing,” said Mr. Hogan, who has been among the many critics of the Trump administration’s repeated claims that states have adequate testing provided by the federal government. “We can’t open up our states without ramping up testing.”

He added: “Luckily we had a very strong relationship with Korea. But it should not have been this difficult.”

In recent days, his wife, Yumi Hogan, a Korean immigrant who speaks fluent Korean, had been on the phone in the middle of the night helping to secure the final deal with two labs to sell Maryland the tests.

On Saturday, the first Korean Air flight to touch down at Baltimore-Washington International Airport arrived carrying 5,000 tests kits — for which the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies gave their seal of approval as the plane was landing.

“I was frosted because my team was saying that the F.D.A. approval was going to hold it up,” Mr. Hogan said in a telephone interview. “I didn’t care and was going to get the tests anyway.”

So far, Maryland has conducted 71,577 tests, while 516 people in the state have died from the virus and infections, at nearly 14,000, continue to rise. The new test kits will give the state the capability to make 500,000 new tests, state officials said.

On Saturday, Mr. Hogan, his wife and a group of other state officials greeted the flight to receive the kits. The new tests, once they have passed muster in local labs, will be distributed to the testing centers the state has set up in sporting fields, repurposed vehicle emissions testing centers and other locations.

As White House defends testing capacity, governors say they lack key supplies.

President Trump said Sunday night that the administration was preparing to use the Defense Production Act to compel an unspecified U.S. facility to increase production of test swabs by over 20 million per month.

The remarks came during his Sunday evening news conference, after he defended his response to the pandemic amid criticism from governors across the country who have said that there had been an insufficient amount of testing — and a shortage of tests themselves — to justify reopening the economy any time soon.

“We are calling in the Defense Production Act,” Mr. Trump said. He added, “You’ll have so many swabs you won’t know what to do with them.”

He provided no details about what company he was referring to, or when the administration would invoke the act. And his aides did not immediately respond when asked to provide more details.

“We already have millions coming in,” he said. “In all fairness, governors could get them themselves. But we are going to do it. We’ll work with the governors and if they can’t do it we’ll do it.”

Multiple governors had said on talk shows earlier on Sunday that a shortage of tests was among the most significant hurdles to lifting restrictions in their states.

“We are fighting a biological war,” Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have been asked as governors to fight that war without the supplies we need.”

Mr. Northam was among the governors who said they needed more swabs and reagents required for the test, and urged federal officials to help them get those supplies.

The governors bristled at claims from the Trump administration that the supply of tests was adequate. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Vice President Mike Pence said there was “a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America,” a claim Mr. Northam, a Democrat, called “delusional.”

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen ​Whitmer, also a Democrat, said the state could perform “double or triple” the number of tests it is doing now “if we had the swabs or reagents.” ​Gov. Larry Hogan​ of Maryland, a Republican, said that it was “absolutely false” to claim that governors were not acting aggressively enough to pursue as much testing as possible.

“It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there, and the governors should just get it done,” Mr. Hogan ​said​ on “State of the Union​.”​ “That’s just not being straightforward.”

There are currently about 150,000 diagnostic tests conducted each day, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Researchers at Harvard estimated last week that to ease restrictions, the nation needed to at least triple that pace of testing.

Separately, New York will test 3,000 people starting on Monday to see if they have coronavirus antibodies, which would be a signal they have already had the virus.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday that antibody testing would be key in guiding the reopening of the state, because finding the number of people who had developed antibodies to the virus would help authorities understand the full extent of its spread.

“That will tell us for the first time what percent of the population actually has had the coronavirus and is now — at least short term — immune to the virus,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This will be the first true snapshot of what we’re really dealing with.”

Oil falls, and stocks on Wall Street drop.

Stocks on Wall Street tumbled, with shares of energy producers falling along with the price of crude oil on Monday.

The price of the main U.S. benchmark crude oil plummeted by about $5, or about 37 percent, to $11.42 a barrel, a level it hasn’t seen in about two decades.

Analysts said West Texas Intermediate crude was being hit by unusual volatility because the current futures trading contract, which is used to set the trading price for oil, will expire on Tuesday and so investors have little interest in buying it.

“In a market as weak as this you would expect interest to shift,” said David Fyfe, chief economist at Argus Media, a commodities pricing agency. “It’s a little bit of a glitch, I suspect.”

The S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent in early trading, and shares in Europe were also mostly lower. Oil producers, including Noble Energy and Diamondback Energy, were among the worst performing shares. Shares of United Airlines and American Airlines were also sharply lower after the former said that it lost almost $2 billion in the first three months of the year.

As investors try to gauge the extent of the damage caused by the pandemic, they’ll face a flood of updates this week from big companies, with about one-fifth of the S&P 500 expected to report first-quarter profits.

Shake Shack is giving back its $10 million stimulus loan.

Shake Shack, the fast-food chain, is returning a $10 million loan from a federal program to help small businesses, following criticism that the stimulus program had favored large chains.

The $349 billion stimulus effort, which was distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, was exhausted in just two weeks, with many loans favoring larger companies that were better able to navigate the application process.

Paycheck protection program loans from the Small Business Administration will be forgiven for companies that do not lay off staff or that rehire them by June 30.

Shake Shack, with 189 outlets and nearly 8,000 employees in the United States, said that it had secured the additional capital it needed through an equity transaction on Friday.

“We’re thankful for that, and we’ve decided to immediately return the entire $10 million P.P.P. loan we received last week to the S.B.A. so that those restaurants who need it most can get it,” the company said in a statement from Danny Meyer, the chairman of Shake Shack, and Randy Garutti, its chief executive.

The company said the loan program should be fully funded in order to not pit restaurants against one another. It called for scrapping the June forgiveness date in favor of staggered deadlines to reflect how the epidemic has hit different parts of the country at different times.

Trump encourages protesters to ‘liberate’ themselves, despite warnings from public health officials.

One month after most Americans were asked to stay in their homes and reorder their lives in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, President Trump defended protesters who were rebelling against the restrictions, threatening to undermine the efforts of his own administration’s public health experts.

“These people love our country,” Mr. Trump said Sunday evening after a day filled with scattered protests around the country. “They want to go back to work.”

Mr. Trump attacked Democratic governors and took up the slogan of protesters who claim to want to “liberate” their states.

At the same time, however, his administration has said that it is up to each state to decide how to safely navigate their way out of lockdown.

The nation’s top public health officials have repeatedly warned that removing restrictions too soon could have devastating consequences — causing a surge of new infections and overwhelming hospitals with critically ill patients.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington, likened the message coming from the Trump administration to “schizophrenia.”

“To have an American president to encourage people to violate the law, I can’t remember any time during my time in America where we have seen such a thing,” Mr. Inslee said on ABC’s “This Week.”

As the economic pain caused by the sudden collapse of global commerce grows deeper, the United Nations warned that the pandemic could lead to “an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”

More than 2,000 people, many without masks, gathered at the Washington State Capitol, with organizers noting that the gathering was on the anniversary of the “shot heard round the world” that triggered the Revolutionary War.

“We will not tolerate this as the new normal,” said Tyler Miller, who led the gathering.

Several hundred protesters descended on the Colorado State Capitol on Sunday, including drivers honking their horns and flying “don’t tread on me” flags.

But in a moment captured by the photojournalist Alyson McClaran, who posted images on social media, two health care workers blocked protesters’ cars.

As protesters hurled abuse at them, the workers, wearing scrubs and N95 masks, stood silently.

More protests against stay-at-home orders are expected in state capitals across the country this week, including in Maine, Maryland and Pennsylvania on Monday. In Wisconsin, protesters are expected to gather at the Capitol building on Friday, the day that the state’s stay-at-home order was originally scheduled to lift before it was extended.

The virus has swept through the Detroit police, from the chief on down.

Police departments across the country have seen infections and quarantines thin their ranks. In New York City, one in six officers was out sick or in quarantine this month. The Miami police chief tested positive for the virus last week, saying his “symptoms are mild.”

But few departments have been hit worse than Detroit’s. Out of about 2,800 uniformed officers and civilians who work for the department, at least 180 had tested positive for the virus by late last week, with more than 1,000 quarantined at some point. Chief James Craig tested positive on March 27 and stayed isolated at home until Thursday.

“Officers were going out left and right,” said a veteran with more than 20 years of experience, who asked that his name be withheld because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. “There were a few days that it became overwhelming.”

The head of the homicide department died. So did a 911 operator and a volunteer police chaplain. As recently as Thursday, nine people from the department remained hospitalized.

Officers patrolling the streets and investigating crimes said that the virus had ratcheted up stress and disrupted all the standard rhythms of police work. Instead of roll call, officers get temperature checks and an envelope with the day’s orders. They give arrested people masks and wipe down patrol cars after every encounter.

“I have to come into work concerned about whether I’m going to be the next victim or not,” said Officer Marc Perez, fresh out of the police academy, after a recent patrol shift through Northwest Detroit. “There’s only so much an officer can do to prevent himself from coming into contact with that actual virus. Every day is stressful for me.”

Civil rights leaders see virus fight as another front in long struggle.

Activists are focusing on the newest front in the country’s civil rights struggle: the disproportionate impact the coronavirus is having on communities of color.

The racial disparity in infections and deaths is viewed as the latest chapter of historical injustices, generational poverty and a flawed health care system. The epidemic has hit African-Americans and Hispanics especially hard, including in New York, where the virus is twice as deadly for those populations.

But with rallies and marches out in the midst of widespread quarantines, civil rights activists are organizing broad, loosely stitched campaigns at home from their laptops and cellphones, creating online platforms and starting petitions to help shape relief and recovery plans.

Collectively, the goal is targeted legislation, financial investments and government and corporate accountability.

“It’s really hard to overstate the critical moment we are in as a people, given how this virus has ripped through our community,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization with 1.7 million members. “We know the pain will not be shared equally.”

The N.Y. subway system is confronting a crisis unlike any it has faced before.

The New York City subway system rebounded from the 1970s, when the city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, crumbling cars routinely broke down and rampant crime scared riders away.

It survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and it came through Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which led to years of costly rebuilding and service disruptions. And it turned a corner after a spate of meltdowns and accidents in 2017 — including a derailment injuring dozens of riders — that prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to declare a state of emergency.

But now, the subway faces its worst financial crisis yet — one that threatens to hobble the system and have a lasting impact on the city and region.

As the coronavirus pandemic has shut down New York, over 90 percent of the city’s subway ridership has disappeared — along with critical fare revenue — leaving behind escalating expenses and an uncertain timeline of when and how the city’s transit lifeline will recover.

It is unclear what the actual fallout could be. But past crises suggest a potentially grim reckoning for riders: subway and bus lines eliminated, unpredictable wait times for trains as service is slashed, more breakdowns as less money is spent on upkeep, and steeper fares.

Marathon postponed, Boston asks people not to run the course.

Boston has a message for would-be marathoners: Stay home.

With the Boston Marathon, once planned for Monday, postponed, local officials have been warning for days that people should not run the 26.2-mile course from the western suburbs to Boylston Street in downtown Boston.

“If you try to run the marathon route Monday, you’re not a champion,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston said. “You’re actually not helping us. You’re putting people at risk.”

Executives at the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, published an open letter with a similar message and said that “groups of runners would divert valuable, urgent resources from the cities and towns along the course.”

The marathon’s postponement was an immense disappointment for the Boston area and for runners worldwide, about 30,000 of whom take on the course on Patriots’ Day each year. The race, rescheduled for Sept. 14, started in 1897 and has been held annually through wars, periods of domestic tension, and in intense weather.

But with the Northeast largely shut down, nonessential businesses closed and Massachusetts under a stay-at-home advisory, Mr. Walsh said that the usual accommodations for the race — road closures, medical personnel, water stations and the like — will be absent on Monday.

“It’s not a great accomplishment,” Mr. Walsh said. “You’re not going to be celebrated for it. No one’s going to be clapping for you, and I would ask you not to do it. There’s no need to do it.”

Those we’ve lost: Lila Fenwick, the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law, dies at 87.

When Lila A. Fenwick was a student at Harvard Law School in the 1950s, she was doubly invisible. She was a woman and she was black.

Neither of those hurdles meant much to her. “I knew I was going to be a lawyer when I was a little girl,” she told the Harvard Law Bulletin in 2000. “It never occurred to me that there were going to be any obstacles.”

In 1956, she was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law, and she went on to become a human rights official at the United Nations, a lawyer in private practice and a benefactor, establishing, with Dr. Doris Wethers and Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, the Foundation for Research and Education in Sickle Cell Disease.

Ms. Fenwick died on April 4 at her home in Manhattan. She was 87. She had been suffering from dementia before contracting the novel coronavirus, said David Colby Reed, a cousin and her guardian.

Ms. Fenwick graduated from law school in 1956, one of a handful of women in a class of hundreds. Ruth Bader Ginsburg started the next school year, when the dean at the time famously challenged the nine women in the class of the future Supreme Court justice to defend why they were occupying a place that could have gone to a man.

Patricia J. Williams, Harvard Law class of 1975 and a professor of law and humanities at Northeastern University, said black women there experienced “a particularly virulent form of racism and sexism.”

In the early 1990s Professor Williams became one of the first black female professors at Columbia Law School. She said she was moved when Ms. Fenwick, whom she had never met, appeared at her office and went on to audit one of her courses.

“She was so elegant, a lady in the lovely, old fashioned, full sense of that word,” Professor Williams said. “We talked about the loneliness, what it took to be in a world where you were always different, always the other and never assumed to be part of the power elite.”

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

Where can the coronavirus live? Here is the most current expert guidance.

We asked experts to answer questions about places where coronavirus lurks (or doesn’t).

What else is happening around the globe.

Keep up with developments in the coronavirus crisis with our team of international correspondents.

Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora, Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Alan Rappeport, Winnie Hu, Christina Goldbaum, John Eligon, Emily Cochrane, Sarah Mervosh, Neil MacFarquhar, Vanessa Swales, Rick Rojas, Russell Goldman, Austin Ramzy and Jennifer Steinhauer.

Tennessee Voices, Episode 19: James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College


Tennessean Opinion Editor David Plazas spoke to James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College Nashville Tennessean

The Tennessee Voices videocast brings readers interviews with authors of insightful and compelling guest columns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that no demographic group will be spared becoming infected.

However, people who historically have underlying health conditions and lack of access to affordable health care are more susceptible to getting sicker and dying. Communities of color, especially African Americans, are being hit particularly hard.

That is why Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College, applauded the introduction of congressional legislation “to collect and report racial, ethnic and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, treatment and fatality rates.”

He talked about this topic among other issues with me on this episode of the Tennessee Voices videocast.

Meharry was founded as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College in 1876 and was the first medical school in the South for African Americans. The novel coronavirus provides a unique challenge and opportunity for the school and medical students.

Hildreth is a celebrated and accomplished HIV/AIDS researcher who is a frequent presence in Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s daily press briefings on COVID-19, telling the general public: “Don’t be a vector.” We discussed exactly what he means in the conversation.

He also shared how he has a penchant for reading Shakespeare plays and gardening, which has provides some stress relief during this era of social distancing.

Op-Ed by Dr. James Hildreth: Nashville’s resolve leads to better indigent care

Hear more Tennessee Voices: Get the weekly opinion newsletter for insightful and thought provoking columns.

About Tennessee Voices

The Tennessee Voices videocast is a 20-minute program that invites leaders, thinkers and innovators who have written guest columns for a USA TODAY Network – Tennessee publication to share their insights and wisdom with me and our viewers.

Please email your ideas for future guests to me at Thank you for watching.

Finally, our journalists are working hard during this pandemic to bring you accurate, verified and solid information. Please consider subscribing and supporting local journalism. 

Watch past episodes:Tennessee Voices videocast

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David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network –  Tennessee and an editorial board member of The Tennessean. Tweet to him at @davidplazas

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