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US deaths pass 16K; Britain’s Johnson out of ICU

The United States has surpassed 16,000 deaths from the coronavirus as cases continue to increase, while almost 25,000 people have recovered nationwide.

Confirmed cases in the U.S. exceeded 461,000 Thursday. The death toll was nearing 6,000 one week ago, but in the last two days there have been nearly 2,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

In other news, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of intensive care, and U.S. stocks surged to their best week since 1974 despite mind-numbing jobless numbers.

Some of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet signaled frustration with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders: Attorney General William Barr called restrictions in many states  “draconian;” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said parts of the economy could reopen by May

And a significant encouraging sign: A University of Washington health research center dropped its estimated U.S. death total from the coronavirus, placing the likely toll by August at about 60,000. 

Worldwide, there are nearly 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 95,000 deaths. 

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily BriefingMore headlines:

• The US has a shortage of face masks amid coronavirus pandemic. A USA TODAY investigation shows why.

A bridge between life and death:Most COVID-19 patients put on ventilators will not survive

• Are you homeschooling during coronavirus quarantine?Moms, teachers share ideas and advice.

• A side of toilet paper to go?Some restaurants are serving up more than meals during coronavirus crisis.

Authorities say fake cops are taking advantage of coronavirus travel restrictions to illegally stop drivers. 

• Support these brands:Here are 20 retailers that are giving back during the pandemic 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson out of ICU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of an intensive care unit where he was being treated for coronavirus to a regular hospital ward, his office said in a statement Thursday, as the condition of Britain’s leader continues to improve.

The statement from Downing Street said Johnson, 55, is receiving “close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.” Earlier, the prime minister’s spokesman said Johnson had a “good night” in the hospital and was in stable condition and “improving.”

Johnson is being cared for in St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later. He was admitted to the hospital Sunday and to its ICU on Monday.

Johnson’s wife, Carrie Symonds, is pregnant and also suffered symptoms consistent with the virus. Earlier this week, Symonds tweeted that she was feeling stronger and “on the mend.”

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Deaths could fall short of projections; summer vacations ‘in the cards’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday he’s cautiously optimistic the steady rise in U.S. deaths could soon “turn around and that curve not only flatten, but (start) coming down.” Last week Fauci and the White House task force estimated U.S. deaths from the virus at 100,000 to 240,000.

“I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000,” Fauci said on the “Today” show. That number matches an updated estimate published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. The total would also match U.S. deaths from a severe influenza season two winters ago.

Fauci, asked on “CBS This Morning” whether Americans would be taking summer vacations, going to baseball games and holding family get-togethers, replied: “It can be in the cards.”

Best week for stocks since 1974

U.S. stocks advanced Thursday, capping their best week in more than four decades after the Federal Reserve said it would provide $2.3 trillion in loans to households, local governments and businesses in another effort to shield the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 285.80 points to close at 23,719.37 in a shortened holiday week. U.S. financial markets will be closed in observance of Good Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 1.5% to end at 2,789.82. It climbed 12% for the week, its best weekly gain since 1974. The broad index has jumped more than 20% in the past two and a half weeks, driven by massive amounts of aid promised by governments and central banks for the economy and markets. 

— Jessica Menton

Trump: Help coming for airlines

Talks are underway with U.S. airlines, already promised a $50-billion chunk of the federal stimulus package, to deliver more aid to them as they endure a dearth of passengers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

Trump led off his daily White House briefing by saying talks will be going on through the weekend to craft more help for beleaguered airlines, which would be consulted.

“It is moving along quickly. The airline business has been hit very hard, as everyone knows.” Trump said. “We will be position to do a lot to help them.”

— Chris Woodyard

Mnuchin: US could be back in business next month

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that parts of the economy could reopen by May. Asked by CNBC host Jim Cramer if he thought the economy could be “open for business” in May, Mnuchin replied, “I do … as soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues, we are making everything necessary that American companies and American workers can be open for business.”

Guidelines issued by President Donald Trump, effective through April 30, recommend that people not gather in groups of 10 or more, not go to restaurants or bars and limit their activities outside the home.

– Nicholas Wu

Unemployment claims near record as layoffs continue to surge

More than 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment benefit claims for the first time last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, reflecting another surge in layoffs and an economy that has continued to shut down to minimize further contagion from the coronavirus. The previous week’s record 6.65 million jobless claims total was revised up by 219,000 to a new all-time high of 6.86 million. That brings the total over the last three weeks to almost 16.8 million claims.

Economists had estimated that 5.5 million workers filed initial claims last week, according to a Bloomberg survey. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 5.1% for the week ending March 28.

“There are reasons to think this is only the beginning,” says economist Jesse Edgerton of JPMorgan Chase.

– Paul Davidson

Air pollution enhances chances of dying from COVID-19, study says

Residents of areas with high levels of air pollution have a much greater chance of dying from COVID-19, a Harvard University study found.

Based on the notion that many of the underlying health conditions that enhance the risk of dying from the coronavirus are the same that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution, researchers looked at about 3,000 counties encompassing 98% of the U.S. population.

They discovered that an increase of just one microgram per cubic meter of fine particulate matter was linked to a 15% increment in the COVID-19 death rate.

“The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” the report concludes.

Dems block $250B for small businesses, cite needs of hospitals

An effort by Senate Republicans to replenish an emergency fund for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus crisis was blocked by Democrats, who called it a “political stunt” that failed to consider hospitals and other pressing needs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had proposed legislation boosting the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by another $250 billion on top of the $349 billion Congress approved last month as part of the $2.2 trillion pandemic response known as the CARES act.

But when it came up Thursday on a voice vote, Maryland Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen objected, effectively blocking it. The bill “was not negotiated so it won’t get done,” Cardin said.

– Christal Hayes and Ledyard King

Struggling college students to get billions in aid

The Education Department is dispersing roughly $6.3 billion in emergency aid to colleges, meant to help students struggling financially due to the coronavirus outbreak, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.

The money comes through the CARES Act that passed Congress last month, which is meant to prop up the floundering economy through the virus’ disruptions. 

It’s unclear when students will receive the funds, and it will be up to colleges to distribute the money to students as they see fit. The money can be used for course materials, food, housing, health care and similar expenses, the department said.

The federal government has also suspended federal student loan payments and set the interest rate on these loans to zero through September.

– Chris Quintana

New York has another deadliest day, but hospitalizations continue decline

New York state hit a daily high with 799 deaths Wednesday, bringing the state death toll to more than 7,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. But Cuomo added that hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions continue to slide, indicating that the outbreak’s curve is flattening in his state. Almost half the U.S. deaths have occurred in New York. And as he does at all his daily news conferences, he urged residents to remain vigilant.

“It’s only been 18 days since we closed down New York,” he said. “It seems like a lifetime.”

CLOSE

Congress has passed, President Trump has signed, a $2 trillion stimulus bill that includes checks to taxpayers. Here’s how to see what you might get.

USA TODAY

Attorney General Barr calls lockdowns ‘draconian’

Attorney General William Barr called the restrictions in effect in many states to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus “draconian,” and said Wednesday they should be revisited next month. Asked by Fox News host Laura Ingraham about the balance between religious freedoms and the need to protect people, Barr said the federal government would be “keeping a careful eye” on states’ use of broad powers to regulate the lives of their citizens. 

Officials, Barr said, should be “very careful to make sure … that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified and there are not alternative ways of protecting people.”

– Nicholas Wu

Studies suggest virus spread in New York came from Europe

The coronavirus began spreading in New York in February and came to the area via travelers from Europe, new research suggests. Two separate teams of scientists studying the genetics of the virus came to similar conclusions: People were spreading the virus weeks before the first confirmed case in New York.

“We know with certainty that these were coming from European strains,” Adriana Heguy, director of the Genome Technology Center at NYU Langone Health, told USA TODAY.

The first case of the new coronavirus confirmed in New York came on March 1. On Jan. 31, President Donald Trump said he would restrict entry to the United States from those traveling from China. On March 11, Trump said he was restricting travel from Europe.

– Ryan W. Miller

Dozens of American Airlines flight crew members test positive

The unions that represent commercial pilots and flight attendants say dozens of them who work for American Airlines have tested positive for the coronavirus, and they need better protection.

One hundred of the airline’s flight attendants had COVID-19 as of Saturday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said. In a statement, Julie Hendrick, AFPA’s new president, said the union has been pushing American since January for protective measures for front-line workers.

On Thursday, Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the union that represents American Airlines pilots, told USA TODAY that 41 of them have tested positive for the virus.

Because flight crews could be vectors for the virus, Tajer said they should “receive ‘first responder’ status and priority for protective equipment.”

–  Rasha Ali and Jayme Deerwester

Meat processing plant has 80-plus positive tests

A Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will temporarily close for cleaning after more than 80 employees tested positive for the coronavirus. The Virginia-based company said it would suspend operations in a large section of the plant Saturday, then completely Sunday and Monday to sanitize and install physical barriers to “enhance social distancing.”

The union representing workers at the plant, which employs about 3,700, said the number of confirmed infections is more than 120.

There has been no evidence that the coronavirus is being transmitted through food or its packaging, according to the Department of Agriculture.

IMF chief warns of worst recession since Depression

The head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday the coronavirus pandemic will push the global economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression, and the poorest countries will fare the worst. That marks a dramatic turnaround to what was on track to be a year of economic growth.

Three months ago, the IMF projected income growth per capita for 160 countries. Now the organization expects more than 170 nations will see per capita income diminish. Emerging markets and low-income nations across Africa, Latin America and much of Asia are at high risk, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

“With weak health systems to begin with, many face the dreadful challenge of fighting the virus in densely populated cities and poverty-stricken slums, where social distancing is hardly an option,” Georgieva said.

African countries have sounded the alarm about a lack of access to medical equipment that may leave them vulnerable to the virus.

Virus could be ticket to freedom for some elderly inmates

The coronavirus pandemic has forced prison officials to confront difficult questions about who gets to spend the rest of their days outside prison walls. Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to move vulnerable inmates to home confinement. The elderly – most at risk of getting sick and dying of the virus – have been the fastest-growing population in federal and state prison systems, in part because of lengthy mandatory sentences. Now worried families and advocates want them released.

“People change. People age out of crime, especially violent crime. That’s a young man’s game,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

– Kristine Phillips

Another potential coronavirus vaccine, this time without the deep injection

Another trial is underway to test the safety of a possible vaccine for the coronavirus, and those who fear needles may be in luck: It uses a skin-deep shot that would feel like a small pinch instead of a deep jab. The trial aims to give 40 healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, two doses of the potential vaccine, INO-4800, four weeks apart. 

Similar to another clinical trial that began testing for safety in Seattle last month, the potential vaccine does not rely on using the virus itself. Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ trial, instead, injects a piece of synthetic DNA with a section of the virus’ genetic code. The Seattle trial relies on messenger RNA. After the shot, volunteers are given a brief electrical pulse that allows the synthetic DNA to more easily enter the body.

Dozens of other potential vaccines are being developed around the world, but it could be more than a year to 18 months before a vaccine is widely available, public health officials have said.

– Ryan W. Miller

Italian PM: COVID-19 could break EU; Italy may soon ease lockdown

The European Union could collapse if it fails to come together over financial challenges presented by the coronavirus, Italy’s prime minister said. Giuseppe Conte and some other EU leaders are pressing more frugal members of the bloc to issue so-called “corona bonds” – sharing debt that all EU nations would help to pay off. The Netherlands is among nations that have opposed the plan.

“If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real,” Conte told the BBC.

Conte also said Italy may start to gradually ease the world’s most restrictive national lockdown.  The number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have started to decline across the country in recent days. Italy has reported more than 17,000 deaths, the most of any nation, and almost 140,000 confirmed cases.

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY

• Does COVID-19 have new symptoms?We checked the facts, and it’s true.

• Your coronavirus questions, answered:How many people have recovered? Do I need to wear gloves, too? Does UV light kill COVID-19?

• Take a (virtual) field trip: Go to Jamaica, Walt Disney World, Georgia Aquarium and more.

• Toilet paper production is 24/7 these days. So, why can’t we find it at stores?

• Black people are overwhelmingly dying from coronavirus. Nobody knows why.

• Is coronavirus spreading ‘quickly’ on gas pumps:Here are the facts.

CLOSE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance for essential workers as it takes a small step toward reopening the country. (April 8)

AP Domestic

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More coronavirus news from USA TODAY

• Mapping coronavirus:Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state.

• When will life return to normal? U.S. testing is too far behind to know, says one expert.

• How the 50 states are responding to coronavirus: And why eight states haven’t issued stay-at-home orders.

• ‘Scotch tape and baling wire’:How some hospitals and companies are responding to meet America’s ventilator shortage.

• You’re not ‘too busy’ to stay active: Health experts worry about inactivity during coronavirus quarantine.

Contributing: Paul Davidson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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Three U.S. local governments to adopt coronavirus contact tracing app: MIT

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Three U.S. local governments plan to sign deals this week to become the first to adopt a location tracking app aimed at preventing new outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-led project said Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: People stand in front of Building 10 behind Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., November 21, 2018. Picture taken November 21, 2018. To match Exclusive USA-CHINA/STUDENTS REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

An additional 17 state and municipal governments are considering introducing the app in their communities as soon as in the next two weeks, said Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, in an email exchange.

“These span all over the country, and include some of the largest U.S. cities to more remote vacation communities looking to protect themselves,” he said.

Raskar declined to specify the states, counties or cities nearing agreements but said they were expected to advocate for residents to voluntarily download the app, known as Private Kit.

He described the expected deals as a “letter of intent” for collaboration, training and support.

Two Massachusetts cities plan to compare the performance of Private Kit with health officials asking patients to recall recent contacts from memory, he said.

“There are specific communities where a human-based approach will have benefits and others where the technology enabled platform will provide greater efficiency and accuracy,” Raskar said.

Governments worldwide are evaluating Private Kit or similar technologies meant to aid the otherwise labor-intensive process of contact tracing, in which health officials must ask recent contacts of a person who has tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine or get tested.

Effective contact tracing will need to be in place before widely lifting stay-at-home orders that have crippled the global economy, health experts have said. European countries have partnered on the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing initiative, following the successful use of app-based systems in some Asian countries.

But privacy concerns and technical limitations are among several hurdles the app-based systems face among Americans.

MIT researchers and their collaborators said Private Kit can log an individual’s movements without jeopardizing their privacy. Their system relies on Bluetooth signals dubbed “chirps,” which are communicated between phones of Private Kit users.

Healthcare officials would ask users who test positive for the coronavirus to anonymously publicize their phones’ recent “chirps.” Any Private Kit user whose phone was close enough to infected users to register their phones’ chirps would be alerted about their potential coronavirus exposure.

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Southern California are among others developing location tracking apps, and some of the projects are being designed to work with the Private Kit app.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Richard Chang

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Nicaraguan president missing in action for nearly one month and counting

By Ismael Lopez

MANAGUA, April 9 (Reuters) – During Nicaragua’s devastating civil war in the 1980s, youthful revolutionary Daniel Ortega toured every town in the Central American nation, clad in his green Sandinista uniform.

Now in his second stint as president, the 74-year-old leftist leader has disappeared from public view for nearly a month, raising questions about his health and whereabouts as the world reels from the spread of the coronavirus.

As in 2014, another time he dropped off the map, his absence has even prompted speculation he may have died.

The government did not respond to a request for comment on the reasons for Ortega’s absence, his health or whether he is alive.

However, a government official close to Ortega said he was alive, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Over the years, the former guerilla has suffered two heart attacks and developed high cholesterol and other ailments, said the official. Since then, the president has been increasingly protective of his health, said the source.

Ortega’s last public appearance was on March 12, in which he spoke briefly via video from a living room.

“He has always fled from problems; no wonder he is absent in the midst of the coronavirus crisis,” said Dora Maria Tellez, a former minister in Ortega’s first government in the 1980s who later broke with the president.

Ortega also disappeared for several weeks in 1998, after his adopted stepdaughter accused him of abuse, which he denied.

During his current absence, Vice President Rosario Murillo, his wife, has spoken publicly every day, fueling speculation that Ortega will eventually emerge to oversee a campaign to defeat the coronavirus.

So far, Nicaragua has not encouraged social distancing or other measures against the virus, even as neighboring Honduras and nearby El Salvador implement tight restrictions.

Nicaragua has registered seven coronavirus cases and one related death, but experts question the numbers because the government has not revealed how many tests have been conducted.

Ortega’s health has often been a closely guarded secret. Elected president in 1984, Ortega was voted out of office after a single five-year term as the economy floundered. He eventually won re-election and returned to office in 2007.

After orchestrating a constitutional change to allow for re-elections, his current term is due to end in 2022. (Reporting by Ismael Lopez, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon)

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U.N. Security Council meets over coronavirus as it struggles to act

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council met for the first time on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic as the 15-member body – charged with maintaining international peace and security – struggles to agree on whether it should take any action.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres privately briefed a virtual council meeting on the disease, which has so far infected some 1.5 million people – killing 90,000 – in more than 200 countries and territories, according to a Reuters tally.

“The pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security – potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease,” Guterres told the council.

“The engagement of the Security Council will be critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, a signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time,” he said.

Diplomats have largely blamed Security Council inaction over the pandemic on the United States and China.

Beijing has been reluctant for the council to get involved, arguing it was not within its mandate, while Washington has insisted that any council action refer to the origins of the virus, much to the annoyance of China. The new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

“That is the wrong discussion to have right now about naming the virus. It’s COVID-19 … and it’s a threat to international peace and security and the Security Council should have expressed itself on it earlier,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told the Security Council on Thursday that it should reject any acts of stigmatization and politicization. U.S. President Donald Trump, who labelled the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” last month said Beijing should have acted faster to warn the world.

“To overcome this global challenge, solidarity, cooperation, mutual support and assistance is what we need, while beggar-thy-neighbor or scapegoating will lead us nowhere,” Zhang said.

‘FIGHT OF A GENERATION’

In recent weeks, council members have been negotiating two draft resolutions. The five veto-wielding powers – the United States, China, France, Russia and Britain – have been discussing a French text. The remaining 10 members – elected for two-year terms – have been discussing a Tunisian draft.

“The eyes of the world are on each of us that are on this Council, and we must act to save lives,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, told the council on Thursday.

“The most effective way to contain this pandemic is through accurate, science-based data collection and analysis of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus,” she said.

The council met on Thursday at the request of nine of the elected members. After the meeting the council issued a short statement, agreed by consensus, which expressed support for Guterres’ efforts concerning “the potential impact of COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries.”

“We’ve been waiting for this meeting for quite some time,” Belgium’s U.N. Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve told reporters. “It was an occasion to demonstrate unity in the council and I hope this is the beginning of making progress also on a resolution.”

A resolution by the council could back Guterres’ call for a ceasefire in conflicts around the world, push for access for the delivery of humanitarian aid to fight the coronavirus and urge a coordinated global approach to confronting the outbreak.

But the Security Council cannot do much about dealing with the coronavirus itself or addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic, said Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group think-tank.

“What the council could do is project a bit of international unity in the face of the disease,” Gowan said. “After weeks of China and the U.S. bickering about the origins of the virus, a simple statement from the council about the need for cooperation would be a reassuring signal.”

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to be adopted. The council has addressed global public health issues in the past, adopting resolutions in 2000 and 2011 on HIV/AIDS and on the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014, when it declared the outbreak a threat to international peace and security.

Guterres told the council of the coronavirus outbreak: “This is the fight of a generation – and the raison d’être of the United Nations itself.” (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home


Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

 If you’ve been isolating yourself at home due to COVID-19, there’s a good chance you’re growing tired of your same old surroundings.

Once the novelty of staying inside wears off, the social distancing lifestyle can start to feel a bit lonely, boring, and monotonous. If you’re looking for a cheap, simple way to make your living space more exciting, we have a somewhat unconventional suggestion: Buy a new shower curtain.

I know you’re probably thinking that buying a new shower curtain sounds even more dull than the idea of staying home for another month. But I’m not talking about a sensible, neutral shower curtain that you’d buy to tie your whole bathroom together. I’m suggesting you order a fun, colorful, wacky, patterned, perhaps even slightly chaotic shower curtain. 

A new shower curtain has the power to transform the look and feel of your entire bathroom, not to mention, glancing at it in the mirror when you’re washing your hands 20 times a day can help cheer you up.

I’ve always favored extremely tame shower curtains that seamlessly blend with surrounding bathroom decor, but after recently coming across a Wayfair ad for a few wacky-looking shower curtains I did a little research and stumbled into the weird and wonderful world of online shower curtain shopping. 

Was everyone aware of just how many shower curtains there are in this world? There are curtains with gorgeous flowers, colorful stripes, maps, tassels, animals, sports logos, travel scenes, and more printed onto them. If you can imagine it, it’s on a shower curtain. And if not, you can personalize your own curtain with a favorite quote, photograph, or design.

The online shower curtain selection is honestly a bit overwhelming, so if you need some inspiration I suggest filtering search results by seeking out curtains that reflect your interests. Do you love the color orange? Are a you a huge fan of Star Wars? Are you obsessed with dogs, vinyl, or traveling? If so, you’re in luck. The perfect shower curtain is out there for you.

After a few initial searches I was able to find these serious contenders for my own shower, but the possibilities are truly endless.

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: 29.99 via Wayfair

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $57.14 via Redbubble

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $17.55 via Amazon

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $101 via Wayfair

Wayfair, Amazon, Etsy, Redbubble, and more have delightful selections of shower curtains — including both whimsically unhinged and tastefully simple options — that I highly recommend browsing. But some custom curtains online can be a bit pricey, so remember that you can always search for discounts at stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, or Marshalls and TJ Maxx when stores re-open. 

Most people don’t usually change their shower curtains very often, but it sounds like a nice idea to have several options on-hand that you can swap out depending on your mood. They even sell festive shower curtains for the holidays that are hilariously extra. And if you really feel like an upgrade you can also shop for new shower curtain hooks and rings.

Just be sure to keep the height of your shower/tub in mind when shopping for your new shower curtain,  remember to buy a plastic liner if needed, and your bathroom glow-up will be good to go.

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The Climate Kids Are Not Alright About Bernie Sanders: ‘I Was Just Full-On Sobbing’

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As Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race on Wednesday, a hail storm rolled through Indianapolis and flooded 16-year-old climate activist Isabella Fallahi’s basement. Flooding in the Midwest is becoming more common as the world gets hotter, and she hoped that Sanders, as president, would keep her generation from living through a catastrophic century of climate change.

“Many of us were absolutely heartbroken yesterday,” she said. “I was just full-on sobbing.”

Now that Sanders has suspended his campaign, the youth climate movement needs to regroup. They felt the senator from Vermont was the only candidate on the national stage who took the climate crisis as seriously as they did. After months of internal debate, one of the largest and most politically powerful climate organizations, the Sunrise Movement, endorsed Bernie in January.

Without him, the youth climate movement has now lost a true champion. And it’s not clear that backing former Vice President Joe Biden in the same way makes sense for its members.

“I really don’t want to see another term of Trump, and Biden’s kind of the answer to that,” said Kallan Benson, a 16-year-old activist in Maryland, who organizes with Greta Thunberg’s movement, Fridays for Future. “I think he’s better than Trump, but that’s kind of a low bar.”

“I don’t know what to think, honestly,” she added.

Stuck in their homes under quarantine, members of various youth climate groups are now logging on to Zoom call after Zoom call with their peers, figuring out what’s next. Sanders was representing their values on the national stage. Now, they’re split on whether, and how, to engage with the presidential race.

“It’s an ideological battle that’s now arising in the youth movement as to where we want to head after this.”

“It’s an ideological battle that’s now arising in the youth movement as to where we want to head after this,” said Fallahi, who’s organized with ZeroHour and is starting an umbrella organization to link climate movements internationally, called PollutersOut.

Before the coronavirus pandemic essentially halted the Democratic primary, Sanders was winning the youth vote. But in a primary where turnout was up across the board, the youth vote wasn’t enough to carry him to victory, and older voters turned out in even greater numbers for Biden.

But Biden hasn’t managed to electrify young people: He lost among young voters in the primary by double-digit margins. Biden may have won the primary in Arizona, but Sanders beat him by a full 52 percentage points with younger voters, according to the Washington Post’s exit polls.

“I know that for many people, especially because Bernie was doing so well in February, that people see it as the DNC pulling the rug right out from under this movement of millions of mostly young people, mostly working-class people, mostly people of color,” said Jonah Gottlieb, a 17-year-old climate activist in Northern California.

While Sanders espoused the values of the youth climate movement, young activists say they’re focused on policies more than on candidates. He championed the Green New Deal that the young activists favor. Biden, on the other hand, hasn’t committed to banning fossil-fuel drilling on public lands.

Even besides his policies on climate, Biden raises some red flags for young voters.

“The sexual assault allegation really, really bothers me,” Benson said. One of Biden’s former staffers, Alexandra Tara Reade, recently accused Biden of digitally penetrating her during an encounter on Capitol Hill. Biden’s campaign has refuted the allegations.

Ultimately, though, most young activists will channel their energy into getting Biden to adopt more progressive policies.

“Between Trump and Biden, we are going to take Biden’s side,” said Ameli Hajedi, an 18-year-old activist near Boston with the Sunrise Movement. “A lot of us are going to feel frustrated and feel like we lost. But we need to stay grounded. We have shifted politics, and we’re going to continue to push that same agenda no matter what.”

It’s not just Bernie’s loss in the Democratic primary that’s set the youth movement back, either. With most of the world under lockdown because of the coronavirus, their planned protests — the most effective way the teens are demanding attention — had to be cancelled.

“My friends have been trying to organize the biggest Earth Day strike since 1970 for four months now,” Hajedi said. “To have that taken away, we had to take some time to cope with that.”

The Sunrise Movement has also been hosting an online organizing training program. More than 1,500 people attended a four-day course last week, according to Hajdi. She said the activists figured out how to organize the online training even before her high school had worked out how to host online classes.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks about subjects like climate change during a campaign rally Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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Harris poll shows broad bipartisan consensus on China’s lying about COVID-19 — so why does media use their data?

Just where does the blame lie for the COVID-19 pandemic? According to a new Harris poll, few issues have brought such immediate public consensus as this has. More than three-quarters of all Americans, and supermajorities of both parties, lay the blame at Beijing’s feet. The national debate has lagged behind this political consensus, but the national media might be lagging even further behind:

Inside the Beltway, Republicans attack Democrats, Joe Biden and the media for not being critical enough of the Chinese Communist Party. Democrats attack President Trump for saying “Chinese virus” and attack any Republicans who blame the coronavirus pandemic on the CCP as racist.

Yet a new poll shows that, outside the Beltway, the coronavirus crisis is actually bringing Americans together on the China issue. Republicans and Democrats now largely agree that the Chinese government bears responsibility for the spread of the pandemic, that it can’t be trusted on this or any other issue, and that the U.S. government should maintain a tough position on China on trade and overall, especially if Beijing again falters in its commitments.

Note well the issue of trust. At the very same time that media outlets keep repeating data from China uncritically, their consumers have decided that it’s not to be believed:

The bipartisan consensus on China doesn’t stop there. Ninety percent of Republicans said the Chinese government is responsible for the spread of the virus, compared to 67 percent of Democrats. Only 22 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats said they thought the Chinese government reported their coronavirus statistics accurately.

On trade, there’s even more agreement. Neither party seems to know whether China will fulfill its obligations under Trump’s “phase one” trade deal. But strong majorities in both parties believe that the U.S. government should reimpose tough tariffs if Beijing doesn’t live up to its obligations. Majorities in both parties also believe U.S. manufacturers should pull back from China in the wake of the crisis.

That trade pullback may already be happening, about which we’ll have more later. The issue of trust in China’s propaganda is more significant for the moment, because American media outlets keep parroting it, especially to use in comparison to the US response. Last week, a number of them (including NBC) reported uncritically that China had reported no new deaths overnight from the Wuhan Flu, and only 32 new cases overall — while reports from Shanghai and other places talked of renewed lockdowns and mass orders of urns flowing into Hubei province. China has consistently lied about the nature and scope of the pandemic, which the world discovered the hard way starting at the end of January.

The crosstabs on China’s credibility with the American public are rather brutal. Only 28% overall of the 1,993 respondents find their reports credible, with 72% calling their data “inaccurate,” in Harris’ polite phrasing. The most favorable demo for China’s propaganda is 18-34 year olds, who split 39/61; seniors are the least open to it of all demos, 14/86. The partisan splits are listed in Josh Rogin’s report from the Washington Post above, but it’s pretty much the same story in all demos. Interestingly, women are among the least receptive demos (24/76), with men a bit more open at 32/68, which would be a bit counterintuitive considering the political demo splits.

By the way, the crosstabs on China’s responsibility are even more brutal. The only demo not to have 75% or more blaming China is Democrats, who still split 67/33. And, for the record, majorities in each wave of this poll support Donald Trump calling it the “Chinese virus,” with the latest wave (4/3-5) the biggest at 58/42. That’s yet another pushback to the media narrative that using that nomenclature is racist rather than an accurate pinning of responsibility where it lies.

The American public is smart enough to know Beijing propaganda when they see it. Why hasn’t our national media caught up with them? Perhaps they’re more concerned with their own anti-Trump agenda to care.

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How the military secured experimental Covid-19 drug remdesivir — Quartz

Despite what you may hear from dodgy sources on social media, there is no known treatment for Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Right now, there are only clinical trials.

Among the drugs being investigated is remdesivir, an experimental antiviral made by the US drug company Gilead Sciences. It has been characterized as one of the most promising by health authorities, including WHO officials—though that optimism is inspired only by anecdotal information. US data on remdesivir’s performance in controlled clinical trials is expected next month, and data from late-stage trials conducted in China will be released by the end of April.

The US military, however, has already secured access to remdesivir for its service members.

On March 10, the Pentagon announced a deal with Gilead Sciences in which the pharmaceutical company would supply the military with the intravenous drug at no cost. “Together with our government and industry partners, we are progressing at almost revolutionary rates to deliver effective treatment and prevention products that will protect the citizens of the world and preserve the readiness and lethality of our service members,” Army Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, commanding general of the US Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) and Fort Detrick, Maryland, said in a media statement at the time.

Remdesivir has already been given to more than 1,700 Covid-19 patients globally. Many thousands more are receiving it in trials or in individually managed “compassionate use” cases approved by Gilead before the company shut down that pathway near the end of March.

To the uninitiated, news of the military’s deal with Gilead was surprising, shining a light on the military’s unique ability to acquire medications before the FDA has signed off on the same drug for average Americans, if it ever does. But it’s not the first time that the military has entered such an arrangement—it’s just the first time the drug in question has been one of exceedingly high interest to the public.

Here’s what we know about how the process works, and why the Pentagon decided to pursue a deal with Gilead.

The US army division that becomes a “laboratory”

The US military has an obvious strategic and humanitarian interest in protecting its soldiers from pandemic diseases. That’s a task that should be easier to orchestrate now, when the country is not involved in a major war, than during a pandemic like the Spanish flu of 1918. One hundred years ago, the most successful practices for dealing with the flu’s devastation were some of the same in use now: social distancing, quarantines, and good hygiene, as a recent report from RAND explains.

Today, however, the Pentagon also has a unique team called Force Health Protection in its corner. This group is devoted to managing and procuring investigational drugs and other medical products on behalf of the US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA), a division of the USAMRDC.

Under army regulations, the USAMMDA can enter into a special contract—a “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement”—with an organization like Gilead and become designated as a “laboratory,” a USAMMDA spokesperson said. In this way, the Department of Defense has “the capability to use investigational medical products, that are in development, with enough safety, efficacy, and dosing information to respond to high consequence threats when there is no FDA-approved or feasible treatment.”

It’s debatable whether we would call the practice “treatment” or “research.” Although it appears on the ClinicalTrials.gov website as an expanded access program, the USAMMDA told Quartz that the contract with Gilead “is not part clinical trial but a treatment protocol.”

The role of Force Health Protection was also profiled in an official interview with James Karaszkiewicz, a senior scientist for the team, published in 2018. He said the unit “forms a bridge between the regulatory world and the product development world.”

“We make products available to the Warfighter, and in some cases dependents, prior to their licensure,” he said. “But all of this is done under appropriate US Food and Drug Administration regulatory mechanisms.” The team’s staff is familiar with niche regulatory mechanisms around emergency use authorizations and expanded access programs for investigational drugs, he explained, calling these obscure pockets of FDA rules “the center of our world.” In 2018, Force Health Protection unit was managing 11 medical products in total.

In an ideal scenario, Karaszkiewicz said, the FHP selects drugs or devices that are roughly halfway along the standard commercial pipeline, so most of the products they handle have at least completed the first two stages of standard FDA trials and have been deemed basically safe, while showing some efficacy in a patient population. (Drug companies must submit data from large phase three trials before the FDA will consider a product for approval.)

Remdesivir fits that profile. The compound was crafted more than 10 years ago and later developed as a potential treatment for the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in the mid-2010s (it had minimal effect). But researchers continued to test remdesivir against other viruses and discovered it worked to block other coronaviruses from replicating in animal studies, including those behind Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Phase two trials of Covid-19 patients treated with remdesivir had already been completed when the USAMMDA made its announcement about acquiring the drug.

“Remdesivir was chosen because it was the most mature, broad spectrum antiviral drug in development and showed activity in vitro and in animal models in decreasing the viral replication against coronaviruses,” the USAMMDA said in its statement to Quartz.

More than an insurance policy  

There are some key differences between remdesivir and the typical drug that would interest Force Health Protection. Karaszkiewicz explained in the 2018 interview that most of the experimental medications that his team manage target a disease or condition that does not pose a threat to the vast majority of Americans. 

Drug development for these kinds of diseases would be lengthy or non-existent. At the very least, recruitment for clinical trials would be slow. “There are diseases that just don’t occur in the US, so no one is going to make the investment to try and gain approval in the US for that particular indication,” he said.

Many of the division’s products are, in fact, “insurance policies,” hopefully never to be used because they’re designed for chemical or biological warfare, but managed and strategically stored around the world should they be required, he said. Other medications are intended to treat endemic diseases in specific locations.

By contrast, the demand for remdesivir and momentum behind its development could not be stronger or feel more urgent. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from Covid-19. At that time the military announced its deal with Gilead, 25 people in the US had died of Covid-19. As of today (April 9), the virus has taken more than 14,000 US lives, and killed more than 80,000 people globally.

Remdesivir is not merely an insurance policy. It’s currently being administered to service members who have tested positive for Covid-19, Quartz was told, and some patients have already been treated. The drug’s usage is being coordinated and positioned in the US, in the US European Command, and in the US Indo-Pacific Command. The announcement did not include details about how many doses Gilead Sciences would be providing the Pentagon; a spokesperson for the USAMMDA also declined to share specific numbers.

More than 2,000 Department of Defense personnel have been diagnosed with the illness as of April 9, as ABC reports. One member of the National Guard has died from the disease. An estimated 46,000 active service members are also responding to the pandemic in field hospitals in the US.

As soldiers are apparently given access to the drug, several other US and global clinical trials are underway to test its effects when introduced at various stages of disease development and for five- or 10-day intervals. Some citizens are “rushing” to join these research efforts, as CBS News reportsWith results still pending, Gilead has announced plans to boost production and donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir for clinical trials.

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Men and Women Are Very Split on Whether They Prefer Trump or Biden, New Poll Shows

More women would rather see former Vice President Joe Biden get elected in the 2020 election than President Donald Trump, according to data from a CNN/SSRS poll released Thursday.

Women surveyed overwhelmingly gave Biden their political support with 62 percent saying they would vote for Biden if the election were held today. Trump was behind by 30 points at 32 percent.

Men chose Trump to continue into his second term as president although the margins were closer. While 51 percent of the men surveyed supported Trump, 44 percent gave their support to Biden—a difference of only 7 percent.

Overall, the poll showed that Biden held a lead over Trump. Biden received 53 percent of the support of those polled, leaving Trump with 42 percent of the voters surveyed inclined to vote for him.

Newsweek reached out to research firm SSRS and the Biden campaign for comment.


Former Vice President Joe Biden held a substantial lead over President Donald Trump in polling data released Thursday, with more women supporting Biden than men.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

While Trump had 50 percent of voter support as far as the overall economy, Biden was only behind the president by four percentage points with 46 percent.

However, Biden came out ahead of Trump on matters of health care and the response to coronavirus.

While Trump’s health care policies garnered him 39 percent in the survey, 57 percent of those polled thought Biden would do a better job at handling the nationwide health care issue. Most registered voters polled said they would trust Biden to handle the coronavirus crisis, with 52 percent of those surveyed giving Biden the nod. Trump’s response rated 43 percent.

This year’s election process has been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic with some states postponing their presidential primaries in order to avoid community spread of the virus.

Trump, however, has attacked Biden’s past record on health issues. In March, Trump referred to Biden’s response to the swine flu outbreak that occurred in 2009 while Biden served in the Obama administration, “one of the worst on record.”

“In the past, Joe Biden has shown terrible judgment and incompetence in the face of public health issues,” read a March statement from Trump’s campaign. “The Obama White House had to publicly apologize for and clean up after Biden when his irresponsible remarks caused panic during the swine flu outbreak in 2009.”

Biden said in April 2009 that he would avoid traveling in confined spaces, such as airplanes, because “when one person sneezes, it goes everywhere through the aircraft.”

“If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that’s one thing; if you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it’s a different thing,” Biden added.

At that time, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on MSNBC that if Biden “could say that over again he would say if [people] are feeling sick, they should stay off public transit or confined spaces because that is indeed the advice that we’re giving.”