Pompeo says ‘significant’ evidence that new coronavirus emerged from Chinese lab •Cuomo talks NYC subway closures and cleaning WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was „a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but did not dispute U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made.”There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC’s „This Week,” referring to the virus that emerged late last year in China and has killed about 240,000 people around the world, including more than 67,000 in the United States.Pompeo then briefly contradicted a statement issued last Thursday by the top U.S. spy agency that said the virus did not appear to be man-made or genetically modified. That statement undercut conspiracy theories promoted by anti-China activists and some supporters of President Donald Trump who suggest it was developed in a Chinese government biological weapons laboratory.”The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo said. When the interviewer pointed out that was not the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pompeo backtracked, saying: „I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reasonto believe that they’ve got it wrong.”The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on Pompeo’s comments.China’s Global Times, run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial responding to Pompeo’s Sunday interview that he did not have any evidence the virus came from the lab in Wuhan and that he was „bluffing,” calling on the United States to present the evidence.”The Trump administration continues to engage in unprecedented propaganda warfare while trying to impede global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” the editorial said.Thursday’s report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it concurred with „the wide scientific consensus” that the disease was not man-made.U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis have said for weeks that they do not believe Chinese scientists developed the coronavirus in a government biological weapons lab from which it then escaped.Rather, they have said they believe it was either introduced through human contact with wildlife at a meat market in the central city of Wuhan, or could have escaped from one of two Wuhan government laboratories believed to be conducting civilian research into possible biological hazards.Pompeo said on Thursday it was not known whether the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a meat market, or somewhere else. Trump said the same day that he was confident it may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but he declined to describe the evidence.(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Scott Malone, Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)
Pompeo steps up US pressure on China over pandemic handling
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is „enormous evidence” that the new coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China
While highly critical of China’s handling of the matter, Pompeo declined on Sunday to say whether he thought the virus had been intentionally released.
The pandemic has so far infected more than 3.4 million people and killed more than 243,000 around the world, while also fuelling conspiracy theories about its origin.
– ‘Not man-made’ –
News reports say Trump has tasked US spies to find out more about the origins of the virus, at first blamed on a Wuhan market selling exotic animals like bats.
Pompeo told ABC that he agreed with a US intelligence community statement Thursday that backed „the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.”
But he went further than Trump, in citing „significant” and „enormous” evidence that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab.
„Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and running substandard laboratories,” Pompeo said, adding early Chinese efforts to downplay the coronavirus amounted to „a classic Communist disinformation effort. That created enormous risk.”
In its Thursday statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that the intel community will continue to study „whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
The Saturday Telegraph report said the Australian government believed the virus probably originated in a so-called wet market, but that there was a five percent chance it accidentally leaked from the Wuhan lab.
Some Democrats have said Trump is trying to shift blame to avoid responsibility for a slow response to the pandemic that has resulted in the US having by far the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
„Not wanting to take responsibility as the deaths continue to mount, he blames others,” Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said in a statement.
– Growing calls for transparency –
Trump has also been sharply critical of the World Health Organization’s response to the pandemic and is suspending US financial support, saying it moved too slowly to alert the world to the gravity of the disease and was insufficiently skeptical of China’s involvement.
The WHO has said it wants to be invited to take part in Chinese investigations into the animal origins of the pandemic.
Several countries, including Australia, Britain, Germany and France, have joined in US calls for China to be more transparent about the coronavirus outbreak.
The United States now has more than 1,134,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 66,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
China now has nearly 84,000 cases and more than 4,600 deaths.
After moving aggressively to lock down the region and contain the virus, Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei lifted restrictions on movements in late March and early April.
Trump says he is ‘confident’ that the US will have a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. Experts say it could take up to 18 months. email@example.com (Rosie Perper)•Small bottles labbeled with a „Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration
- President Donald Trump said during a Fox News town hall on Sunday night that he was „confident” the US would have a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.
- He said „many” companies currently working to develop a coronavirus vaccine were getting „close” to having a vaccine ready for public use.
- Although companies are moving forward on vaccines at record speed, health experts have estimated that the development and distribution of a vaccine could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
- And some experts have expressed concern that while at least 115 COVID-19 vaccines are in development, rushing them through the necessary testing and approval channels can be risky.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump said during a Fox News town hall on Sunday night that he was „confident” the US would have a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, despite estimates from health experts stating that a vaccine could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months before it is readily available to the public. „We are very confident that we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year,” Trump said at the virtual town hall.”We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year,” he said. „We’re pushing very hard.” He added that companies like Johnson & Johnson, one of over 70 firms around the world currently working to develop a coronavirus vaccine, was getting „close” to having a vaccine ready for public use.”Many companies are, I think, close,” he said. Although companies are moving forward on vaccines at record speed, health experts have estimated that the development and distribution of a vaccine could take anywhere 12 to 18 months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in March that the entire process would take „a year, a year and a half, at least.”Of his ambitious projection, Trump said during the town hall: „The doctors would say ‘well you shouldn’t say that.’ But I’ll say what I think.”
Donald Trump attacks George W. Bush after the latter does a coronavirus video David Jackson, USA TODAY•WASHINGTON – Former President George W. Bush released a video this weekend encouraging Americans to stand up to the coronavirus pandemic, and did not mention current President Donald Trump.It doesn’t sound like that sat too well with Trump.”He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Trump said during a series of Sunday tweets in which he otherwise echoed praise of his performance on the virus and other issues.Trump’s criticism of Bush dealt with the latter’s silence during the impeachment investigation and trial. But he quoted a Fox News commentator who was talking about the coronavirus video that Bush made.Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump.@PeteHegseth “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!Pete Hegseth of Fox said he appreciated Bush’s video, but wondered why the former president didn’t urge people to put partisanship aside during the impeachment drama.Related: Trump Declares Meat Plants ‘Critical Infrastructure’More: Bush and Trump: The contrast that went unspoken but was impossible to miss at the funeralIn his video, Bush praised health care workers and other Americans who are meeting a historic „shared threat.””In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants,” Bush said. „We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”George W. Bush Presidential Center@TheBushCenterA Message from President George W. Bush@TheCalltoUniteBush’s message of unity won widespread praise and drew comparisons to Trump.
Clinton-Obama in 2020? One former White House official says it’s possible
He explained that, if Biden quits before the convention, delegates name the new nominee. If after, members of the DNC would select their replacement candidate.
Enter Clinton and Obama?
“Now, before everyone rolls their eyes, let that sink in for a moment and do some fairly simple calculations about voters and swing states in your heads,” he said. “No matter how you add it, subtract it or divide it, that math would spell trouble for the Trump campaign.”
Then there’s the issue of language in the Constitution that wouldn’t allow for Obama as a vice presidential running mate. MacKinnon pointed to this piece from one constitutional expert in the Washington Post saying there’s nothing to get in the way of such a seemingly far-fetched scenario.But if it still sounds too ridiculous to contemplate, that’s because, according to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, it is. As MacKinnon’s piece racked up clicks over the weekend, Turley said there’s very little chance such an idea would ever be seriously considered.“However, it is the fantasy element that is most striking in the current discussion,” Turley wrote in a blog post on Sunday. “There is a bottomless cavity in coverage for such theories that allow either the removal (or incarceration) of Trump or the return of figures like Obama.
In televised town hall, Trump pushes for economic reopening DARLENE SUPERVILLE and JONATHAN LEMIRE•WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, President Donald Trump on Sunday insisted that “you can satisfy both” — see states gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 Americans.The president, fielding questions from Americans in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.But while Trump increased his projection for the total U.S. death total to 80,000 or 90,000 — up by more than 20,000 fatalities from what he had suggested just a few weeks ago — he struck a note of urgency to restart the nation’s economy, declaring “we have to reopen our country.”“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Trump said.After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News ChannelThe president said of his monumental backdrop: „We never had a more beautiful set than this.”As concerns mount about his reelection bid, Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation’s ability to rebound soon.“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”Many public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said in late April that it is conceivable, if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.
Though the administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly its ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under fierce scrutiny, the president tried to shift the blame to China and said the U.S. was ready to begin reopening.
“I’ll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives,” the president said. But he also broke with the assessment of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying it was “too soon to say” the federal government had overseen a “success story.”
Trump’s impatience also flashed. While noting that states would go at their own pace in returning to normal, with ones harder hit by the coronavirus going slower, he said that “some states, frankly, I think aren’t going fast enough.” He singled out Virginia, which has a Democratic governor and legislature. And he urged the nation’s schools and universities to return to classes this fall.
Federal guidelines that encouraged people to stay at home and practice social distancing expired late last week.
Debate continued over moves by governors to start reopening state economies that tanked after shopping malls, salons and other nonessential businesses were ordered closed in attempt to slow a virus that has killed more than 66,000 Americans, according to a tally of reported deaths by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. economy has suffered, shrinking at a 4.8% annual rate from January through March, the government estimated last week. And roughly 30.3 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the six weeks since the outbreak forced employers to shut down and slash their workforces.
The president’s advisers have nervously watched Trump’s support slip in a number of battleground states and he was told last month that if the election were held that day, he would lose to Democrat Joe Biden. The president’s aides believe restarting the economy, even with its health risks, is essential to a victory in November and are pushing for him to pivot away from discussions about the pandemic and onto an American comeback story.
To that end, Trump will begin traveling again, with a trip to a mask factory in Arizona planned for Tuesday. The president also is set to speak in June at commencement for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Returning to campus for commencement will require graduates to self-isolate for 14 days, but Trump insisted the event poses no risk to the cadets.
The town hall, which included an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence, included a rare mea culpa: The vice president said he should have worn a facemask during a visit last week to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic. Pence’s failure to wear a mask violated the clinic’s guidelines and drew significant criticism.
Elsewhere in Washington, the Senate planned to reopen Monday, despite the area’s continued status as a virus hot spot and with the region still under stay-at-home orders. The House remains shuttered as debate continues on what the next stage of the economic recovery may look like.
State and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion in coronavirus costs, which has been met with some objections by congressional Republicans.
Trump said that while he thought common ground could be found with Democrats over an infrastructure package, “we’re not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country.”
That proposal has been met with objections from both parties.
The leaders of California and Michigan are among governors under public pressure over lockdowns still in effect while states such as Florida, Georgia and Ohio are reopening.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday that the armed protesters who demonstrated inside her state’s Capitol “depicted some of the worst racism” and “awful parts” of U.S. history by showing up with Confederate flags, nooses and swastikas.
Trump on Sunday night singled out Whitmer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, for criticism even as he praised the federal coordination with most governors. He also complained that some Democrats would rather “people get sick” than given him any credit for pushing the use of a malaria drug for treating COVID-19, though it has not been proven to be safe and effective for that use.
Lemire reported from New York.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
Thousands of protesters have flocked to Huntington Beach to protest coronavirus lockdowns in the days following a mandatory closure of Orange County beaches. Angered by the forced closures, the protesters ignored social distancing guidelines and demanded the beaches be reopened.
Crowds took to the streets Friday — many without face masks — backing up traffic for at least a mile along Pacific Coast Highway, The Associated Press reports. „Freedom is essential,” „Surfing is not a crime” and „Newsom is a kook” read some of their signs, which also called for the reopening of all businesses.
Protestors gather in a demonstration in Huntington Beach, California on May 1, 2020. Apu Gomes / Getty Images
Last weekend, California made national news as an estimated 80,000 people gathered on Newport Beach and Huntington Beach during a heatwave. Orange County was the only county in the area where beaches remained open, as counties north and south had previously shut down public spaces.
„This virus doesn’t take the weekends off,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday. „This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts.”
Protestors gather in a demonstration on May 01, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. Apu Gomes / Getty Images
Huntington Beach rn… wtf pic.twitter.com/Y17IvzjwPJ
— TranceDuck 💕 (@F__U__Trump) May 1, 2020
On Thursday, Newsom announced the decision to close Orange County beaches. He again stressed that the „vast majority” of Californians have followed the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines, but said „specific issues” on some beaches „have raised alarm bells.”
Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point city councils attempted to challenge the closures but were refused by a judge on Friday.
„Huntington Beach has never been one to just roll over and take these mandates from the governor,” said Huntington Beach city attorney Michael Gates. „We’re going to be fighting the order on a constitutional basis. We’re fighting for the city. We’re fighting for our decision-makers locally who have done a good job managing this crisis. We’re also fighting for the citizens of Huntington Beach.”
„I’m here because I want our salon open,” protestor Tami Avants told CBS Los Angeles. „I think everybody is essential.”
„The lockdown needs to stop,” said Cypress resident Robin Itzler. „We need to open up the economy. You can’t have a country of everybody hiding at home.”
Protestors gather in a demonstration on May 01, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. Apu Gomes / Getty Images
Down at the protest in Huntington Beach CA pic.twitter.com/4wSzJ821CS
— cauliflower pizza 🍕 nondairy cheese (@CaptainWoosah) May 1, 2020
„We are surf city,” Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said. „We are a beautiful coastal town. Our beaches are so important to us.”
Protestors also gathered at the state Capitol in Sacramento to demand to go back to work, waving signs that said „Defend Freedom” and chanting „U-S-A,” AP reports. A small plane displayed a banner with an image of Newsom’s face and the phrase, „End his tyranny.”
Newsom said Thursday that the closures are „not an indictment of people that want to go the beach,” but rather an expression of his sincere desire to keep residents safe. As of Saturday morning, California confirmed over 50,000 coronavirus cases, over 24,000 of which are in Los Angeles County, according to its health department. The state’s total death toll is 2,073.
Gun-carrying protesters have been a common sight at some demonstrations calling for coronavirus-related restrictions to be lifted. But an armed militia’s involvement in an angry protest in the Michigan statehouse Thursday marked an escalation that drew condemnation and shone a spotlight on the practice of bringing weapons to protest.
The “American Patriot Rally” started on the statehouse steps, where members of the Michigan Liberty Militia stood guard with weapons and tactical gear, their faces partially covered. They later moved inside the Capitol along with several hundred protesters, who demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is prohibited. Some protesters with guns — which are allowed in the statehouse — went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests.
For some observers, the images of armed men in tactical gear at a state Capitol were an unsettling symbol of rising tensions in a nation grappling with crisis. Others saw evidence of racial bias in the way the protesters were treated by police.
For some politicians, there was fresh evidence of the risk of aligning with a movement with clear ties to far-right groups.
Prominent Michigan Republicans on Friday criticized the showing, with the GOP leader of the state Senate referring to some protesters as “a bunch of jackasses” who “used intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor.”
President Donald Trump, who has been criticized in the past for condoning extremist views, called the protesters “very good people” and urged Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “make a deal.”
Michigan has been the epicenter of the political showdown over how to contain the spread of the deadly virus without decimating the economy. About a quarter of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment and nearly 4,000 people have died.
Rally organizer Ryan Kelley said the event was intended to pressure Republicans to reject Whitmer’s plan to continue restrictions on work and travel. He called the protest a “huge win,” noting the Republican-controlled Senate refused to extend Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency declaration — though she said Friday her stay-at-home order remains in effect.
Kelley, a 38-year-old real estate broker, said he and other organizers are not part of a formal group but represent people who have been harmed by the stay-home order. He said he invited the Michigan Liberty Militia, which is listed as an anti-government group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to serve as “security.” He suggested anyone who had a problem with their presence should read the Constitution and “live life without fear.”
Gun-carrying protesters outside state capitols are a regular occurrence in many states, especially in Republican-leaning ones. But rarely do such protests converge at the same time around the country like they have during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Wisconsin, about a dozen men, several wearing camouflage, carried what appeared to be assault rifles and other long guns and stood around a makeshift guillotine at a protest attended by about 1,500 people. In Arizona, a group of men armed with rifles were among hundreds of protesters who demonstrated at the Capitol last month demanding Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lift his stay-home order. Many in the crowd also carried holstered pistols.
Gun groups have been involved in organizing several of these protests — which drew activists from a range of conservative causes. Gun rights advocates believe the restrictions on some businesses and closure of government offices are a threat to their right to own a gun, said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, a group that bills itself as the “no compromise” gun lobby.
Hammond said he routinely gets messages and emails from people around the country, complaining that authorities are making it impossible to exercise their Second Amendment rights. In some cases, that has meant orders closing gun shops or gun ranges or offices shutting down that process permits.
But Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group, considers these protests organized by the ultra-right and not necessarily reflective of most gun owners.
While it’s legal to openly carry firearms inside some state capitols, Watts called it “dangerous to normalize this. Armed intimidation has no place in our political debate.” She said those carrying guns at protests are almost always white men, and are “a vocal minority of the country” that opposes the stay-at-home orders.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus, according to a recent survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The visual of heavily armed protesters, mostly white men, occupying a government building to a measured response by law enforcement is a particularly jarring one for many African Americans.
It draws a stark contrast to the images that emerged from Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, when crowds of unarmed, mostly black men, women and children took to the streets in protest after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Police shot tear gas to disperse the crowds, further inflaming the tensions between predominantly black community and law enforcement. It worsened when members of an armed militia group called the Oath Keepers arrived, some of them armed and sitting on rooftops. Jon Belmar, who was then St. Louis County’s police chief, said at the time that the presence of the group, whose members wore camouflage, bulletproof vests and openly carried rifles and pistols, was “unnecessary and inflammatory.”
“Systemically, blackness is treated like a more dangerous weapon than a white man’s gun ever will, while whiteness is the greatest shield of safety,” said Brittany Packnett, a prominent national activist who protested in Ferguson.
The Michigan demonstrators, she added, “are what happens when people of racial privilege confuse oppression with inconvenience. No one is treading on their rights. We’re all just trying to live.”
Trump, meanwhile, suggested it was Whitmer who should be moved to action.
“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” the president tweeted Friday. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”
This story has been corrected to reflect it was police, not National Guard, firing tear gas in Ferguson.
Associated Press reporters David Eggert and Mike Householder in Lansing, Michigan, Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, Aaron Morrison in New York, Jim Salter in St. Louis, and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines contributed to this report.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images
- Deanna A. Oleske, the associate medical examiner in St. Johns County, Florida, sent numerous emails to local officials, urging them to close the county’s beaches, according to The Washington Post.
- „Close the beaches. Please,” she wrote to the county administration in one email obtained by the newspaper.
- Oleske said the county could only hold just 119 bodies at once and was ill-equipped to handle an outbreak of COVID-19.
- Beaches in the county closed for about two weeks but have since re-opened to the public, and they will see almost no restrictions beginning Monday.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A medical examiner in St Johns County, Florida sent multiple emails to county officials, pleading with them to close beaches to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. While local leaders eventually closed beaches in the county, they’ve since re-opened and will have fewer restrictions on Monday.
According to emails seen by The Washington Post, Deanna A. Oleske, the associate medical examiner in St Johns County asked health officials to „protect the residents” of the county by closing beaches.
Related: How Long Will Social Distancing Last? It’s Complicated.
„Close the beaches. Please,” she wrote March 23 in an email to Hunter Conrad, the county administrator, according to the report. St. John’s County Administration did not immediately return a Business Insider request for comment about Oleske’s emails.
Oleske on multiple occasions warned the medical examiner’s office was „in a dire situation,” adding she lacked staffing, equipment, or even the capacity to accommodate the bodies people who died from COVID-19. She said local funeral homes, hospitals, and her office could contain a maximum of 119 deceased people at once, asking for additional storage space in the case of a local outbreak.
The emails were first obtained by Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, according to the report.
„We are facing NUMEROUS issues that are inhibiting us to appropriately staff this office in an expeditious manner BEFORE facing a pandemic of unknown proportions,” Oleske said in another email, according to the Washington Post.
As The Washington Post noted, despite her pleas, St. Johns County kept beaches open through the month of March. It closed them only after a photo captured from above had shown a direct division between the beach in a neighboring county that had already closed beaches and crowded a crowded beach in St. Johns County.
While only four people have died in the county according to The Post report, a shortage of space for corpses has been seen in places in the US that have been hardest hit by the virus.
On April 17, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told local leaders they were allowed to open up beaches so that residents could use them as space for exercise. The county re-opened beaches in a limited capacity with DeSantis’ announcement, allowing physical activity before noon, according to News4Jax.
But St. Johns County officials announced April 30 that beginning May 4 — Monday — beaches in the state will open without most of the previously imposed restrictions. Driving will be prohibited on the beach and social distancing will be required, according to a press release from the county.
Florida, which has the second-oldest population by percentage in the nation, is currently the process of reopening, even as the state reported 615 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, the day before re-opening efforts are slated to begin, according to Click Orlando.
The Anchorage airport, Alaska’s largest, temporarily shut on Saturday to inbound traffic because of a bomb threat against a China Airlines cargo flight bound for Asia.
The cargo plane diverted to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport early in the morning after leaving Seattle, airport officials said. No bomb was found and the airport was reopened shortly before noon, officials said.
The plane was searched in a secure, remote section of the airport, the airport said in a statement, with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Anchorage Police Department.
„After extensive investigation, no explosive device was located,” the airport’s police and fire department said in a statement. „Investigation at the airport has been completed, however, the investigation into the source of the threat continues. The FBI does not believe there is any continuing threat to our community as a result of this incident.”
The Anchorage Daily News said the plane was headed to Taipei, Taiwan and the threat had been called into the Port of Seattle, quoting an FBI spokesman who said investigators were still trying to determine the source of the threat.
China Airlines, Taiwan’s largest carrier, said in a statement the flight had already taken off for Taipei when it was informed of the threat by Seattle airport. The plane was then diverted to Anchorage.
The crew were taken to a hotel to rest while police searched the aircraft and determined nothing unusual, it added.
The aircraft is expected to land in Taipei late Sunday evening, China Airlines said.
Anchorage Airport is one of the world’s top five air-cargo hubs. It ranks second in the nation for weight of landed cargo. It ranks 58th in passenger travel among US airports.
While passenger flights have been sharply curtailed during the coronavirus pandemic, air cargo operations are considered by the state to be essential and have continued.
Flights that could not land in Anchorage on Saturday morning were advised to consider diverting to the airport in Fairbanks, another cargo hub.