Coronavirus May ‘Reactivate’ in Cured Patients, Korean CDC Says

The coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who have been cured of the illness, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 51 patients classed as having been cured in South Korea have tested positive again, the CDC said in a briefing on Monday. Rather than being infected again, the virus may have been reactivated in these people, given they tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CDC.

“While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” Jeong said. “There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.”

A patient is deemed fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval show negative results.

The Korean CDC will conduct an epidemiological probe into the cases, Jeong said.

South Korea was one of the earliest countries to see a large-scale coronavirus outbreak, but the country has seen just 200 deaths and a falling new case tally since peaking at 1,189 on Feb. 29. One of the world’s most expansive testing programs and a tech-driven approach to tracing infections has seen Korea contain its epidemic without lockdowns or shuttering businesses.

Fear of re-infection in recovered patients is also growing in China, where the virus first emerged last December, after reports that some tested positive again — and even died from the disease — after supposedly recovering and leaving hospital. There’s little understanding of why this happens, although some believe that the problem may lie in inconsistencies in test results.

Read more about Korea’s CDC chief: The Virus Hunter Showing the World How to Fight an Epidemic

As of Wednesday, South Korea had 10,384 virus cases, with 6,776 released from hospital, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

Epidemiologists around the world are in a race to find out more about the virus that causes Covid-19. The pathogen’s rapid global spread has recently seen the focus shift to patients who contract the virus but display few or atypical symptoms. Korea has been at the forefront of tracking these cases, which are causing particular concern in China, where the epidemic is showing signs of coming under control.

Source: Read Full Article

Bill O’Reilly: Dead Coronavirus Victims ‘Were On Their Last Legs Anyway’

Disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly resurfaced on Wednesday to share his thoughts on the wave of deaths due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

And he doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for the victims, who tend to be older and are more likely to have other health problems. 

“Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway,” he said on Sean Hannity’s radio show, according to audio posted online by Media Matters. “I don’t want to sound callous about that.”

Hannity interjected: “You’re gonna get hammered for that.” 

“I don’t care,” O’Reilly said. “A simple man tells the truth.”

The infection has killed more than 14,000 Americans since Feb. 28, the date of the first reported coronavirus fatality in the United States, and the toll continues to grow. 

On Wednesday, 779 people died in New York alone. 

O’Reilly paid at least $45 million to settle sexual harassment allegations, including $32 million to a former Fox News analyst in a scandal that eventually cost him his job on Fox News.

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Everything you need to know about face masks right now
  • How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
  • What to do if you can’t pay rent now
  • How to switch off from work when home is your office
  • 8 sleep tips if coronavirus anxiety is keeping you up at night
  • How long does coronavirus live in the air?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.

Source: Read Full Article

N.Y. Reports Record 779 Daily Deaths; Hospitalizations Drop

Sign up here for our daily coronavirus newsletter on what you need to know, and subscribe to our Covid-19 podcast for the latest news and analysis.

New York suffered another day of record fatalities from the coronavirus outbreak and may be poised to endure many more, as a wave of patients who hit the hospital system two weeks ago begin to succumb to its effects.

Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 779 additional deaths in his daily briefing on Wednesday, the second consecutive day of record fatalities. The state has lost more than 1,500 people to the virus in the last two days, for a total of almost 6,300 — more than double the number of lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he pointed out.

Cuomo said he would direct the state to fly flags at half-mast in remembrance of the victims.

“The bad news isn’t just bad, the bad news is terrible,” Cuomo told reporters in Albany. “The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a period of time pass away.”

More than half of the deaths were in New York City, where officials have been discussing plans to temporarily bury the dead in a potter’s field on Hart Island in the Bronx, which has served as a mass grave for New York’s unknown, poor and homeless dead for more than a century.

The trend in New York was echoed in neighboring New Jersey, home to a sizable share of New York’s workforce, which also reported a second consecutive record day of fatalities. The state has lost more than 1,500 people to the outbreak, including 275 in the last day, Governor Phil Murphy said.

The grim prospect of a week or more of surging virus fatalities contrasted with other data showing that New York is beginning to turn a corner in combating the virus. Net new hospitalizations have dropped to an average of about 550 a day for the last four days, after peaking at roughly 1,400 on April 2.

Cuomo said those figures are evidence that the state’s near-total lockdown and social-distancing rules are working.

“It is flattening the curve, and we see that again today so far,” he said, adding that “we have to remain diligent, we have to remain disciplined going forward.”

Still, the state’s number of new infections ticked up above 10,000 again, after three days of fewer than 9,000. Almost 150,000 New Yorkers have tested positive, with more than 80,000 of them in New York City.

Read More: De Blasio Says Distancing Is Easing NYC Demand for Ventilators

New York’s high death rate — the highest in the country — is a result of the elevated hospitalization rate that began to soar two weeks ago, Cuomo said. State data shows that rates for hospital and intensive-care admissions began surging around March 25 and 26. Hospitals took in more than a thousand patients a day in nine out of the 10 days that followed, with hundreds of those requiring intensive care and intubation.

With ventilator support as a last-ditch attempt to save lives, a large percentage of those patients are dying, Cuomo said.

“That death rate is going up because it’s the people who have been on a ventilator for 7, 10, 15 days and they’re passing away,” Cuomo said. “That’s what’s driving this death toll. That number, what’s making it even more depressing and distressing, that death toll will probably remain that high, this high, or even higher for the next several days.”

The state released statistics Wednesday showing that blacks and Hispanics were affected by the virus at rates disproportionate to their populations. The state will increase testing and research in minority communities, with the state Health Department, Northwell Health and the State University of New York at Albany conducting the research.

“It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price. Why is that?” Cuomo said.

With a presidential primary scheduled for June 23, Cuomo also said he would allow all voters in the state to vote using absentee ballots. State officials will continue to monitor the situation and decide whether polling sites should stay open in June for those wanting to vote in person, said Melissa DeRosa, an adviser to the governor.

Cuomo said that despite several days of flattening statistics, “We are by no means out of the woods.”

“You could have tomorrow morning we wake up and the number is back up,” he said, adding, “This just a small snapshot in time where we are. At this rate we are below projected numbers.”

— With assistance by Henry Goldman, and Elise Young

Source: Read Full Article

Dr. Deborah Birx Sees ‘Some Flattening’ Of The Curve, But Warns Against Complacency

Some “shoots of success” indicate social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have begun to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., according to White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, but Americans need to remain vigilant.

“We are beginning to see some flattening of the number of new cases per day in specific metro areas,” Birx said Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.” She also praised “early shoots of success” in Washington and California, two states that swiftly took action to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

In another interview Wednesday on NBC’s “Today,” Birx said the curve has been “persistently flat” in Washington and California.

In New York and New Jersey, the number of cases initially rose much more sharply, but “we’re seeing that stabilizing, and that gives us great encouragement,” Birx said. She predicted the number of deaths will continue to increase over the next week to 10 days, as many people now gravely ill were infected in the weeks before the states enacted “strict mitigation.”

Every state and metropolitan area will have a different curve, Birx said, so Americans should continue to follow restrictions recommended by the White House and public health experts.

“What’s really important is that people don’t turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread,” she said. “It’s really critical.”

If people relax and fail to maintain social distancing, she said, “a very acute second wave” of infections may erupt.

Some state officials also have cautioned against loosening restrictions too early. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Tuesday there’s evidence the curve “is bending, but it’s also stretching.” He predicted infections in his state could peak in May.

In New York, the epicenter of the pandemic of the U.S., officials this week have pointed to signs that the curve is flattening, while cautioning that it may be too early to identify a clear pattern. Over the weekend, the death rate slackened, but then on Tuesday surged to mark the state’s highest single-day toll. 

Still, New York’s number of hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care are slowing, and projections show that the curve may be reaching a plateau, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday.

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Everything you need to know about face masks right now
  • How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
  • What to do if you can’t pay rent now
  • How to switch off from work when home is your office
  • 8 sleep tips if coronavirus anxiety is keeping you up at night
  • How long does coronavirus live in the air?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.

Source: Read Full Article

Justin Trudeau Accidentally Creates A Gross New Term For ‘Say It, Don’t Spray It’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped some impromptu new terminology Tuesday that nobody seemed to have prepared on their coronavirus briefing bingo cards.

During his daily press conference from outside his home in Ottawa, which is typically a pretty serious affair, Trudeau advised Canadians that they should continue to abide by social distancing guidelines and that wearing a face mask is a good idea because it protects against people “speaking moistly.”

“If people want to wear masks, that is OK, it protects others more than it protects you because it prevents you from breathing or speaking, uh, moistly on them,” he said.

Immediately regretting his word choice, the PM added: “Ugh, what a terrible image.”

Trudeau, who has been isolating at home since his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus on March 13, unintentionally delivered a bit of levity to Canadians. Viewers jumped on Twitter to revel in the uncomfortable moment, and some advised they would be adopting the significantly grosser alternative to “Say it, don’t spray it” at this relevant time.

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Everything you need to know about face masks right now
  • How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
  • What to do if you can’t pay rent now
  • How to switch off from work when home is your office
  • 8 sleep tips if coronavirus anxiety is keeping you up at night
  • How long does coronavirus live in the air?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.

Source: Read Full Article

Virtual barber shop guides you on cutting your own hair in £15 video call

IF isolating to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has left you in desperate need of a haircut then a 'virtual barber' could be the solution.

The appropriately named website has been set up with the aim of pairing you with a "world-class barber".

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

The idea is that the barber will then talk you through cutting your own hair through video chat.

TV personality, chef, and business owner Josh Elkin said in an explainer video: "You know, pyjama bottoms are fine and everything, but I need my face to be presentable.

"I got livestreams, video chats, cooking videos to make.

"That’s where comes in."

How the virtual haircut works?

  • First you'll need to get your own tools, you may need to buy professional hair cutting scissors
  • Then you need to book and pay for your virtual appoinment
  • The barber will use video chat to direct you through your haircut
  • You should end up with shorter hair and a supported barber

Hairdressers and barbers will be out of work at the moment as people are advised to stay home and stay away from people who do not live in their household.

The haircut website is charging $18 (£15) for a quick cut and $30 (£24) dollars for a 45 minute session.

You'll need your own equipment so the barber or hairdresser selected for you can talk you through what to do.

You can even buy a virtual haircut appointment as a gift for someone if you think they are in desperate need of a trim.

The website states that this is a win-win situation because you can "look good and support five star barbers around the world."

One review on the website from someone based in the US reads: “You saved my life.

"My boyfriend looked hideous.”

In other news, YouTube has banned all videos linking 5G to the coronavirus pandemic.

Your internet may be getting slower as the coronavirus outbreak causes a huge surge in web traffic.

And, social media platforms have been inundated with bots trying to spread fake coronavirus news.

Do you think a virtual barber is a good idea? Let us know in the comments…

Source: Read Full Article

Wuhan Is Returning to Life. So Are Its Disputed Wet Markets

In this article

Cars lined up this week at the main entrance to the Baishazhou wet market, one of the biggest in Wuhan, which is buzzing again. The Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged has stirred back to life following a lockdown lasting for months.

A sign hovers overhead: “No slaughtering and selling live animals.”

Baishazhou and other wet markets are at the center of an intensifying global debate about whether they should be allowed to operate, as another market in Wuhan was one of the first places where the virus was detected. U.S. officials, in particular, are ramping up pressure to shut them down. Yet such markets in China and elsewhere in Asia are as essential a part of everyday life as bodegas in the New York City or boulangeries in Paris.

The challenge facing Beijing’s central government as Wuhan and the rest of the country seeks to return to normal life will be how to keep open such markets — which function like a farmers’ market in Western countries — while enforcing rules against the live slaughter of animals or sale of wildlife on site.

29,556 in U.S.Most new cases today

-21% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​9777 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

“Banning wet markets is not only going to be impossible, but will also be destructive for urban food security in China as they play such a pivotal role in ensuring urban residents’ access to affordable and healthy food,” said Dr. Zhenzhong Si, a research associate at the University of Waterloo who studies food security in China.

The coronavirus, which has now infected more than 1.4 million people worldwide, was first discovered in December after a cluster of cases initially linked to the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market -- one of the biggest aquatic wholesale markets in central China. Subsequent research, including a study by Chinese researchers published in the Lancet in February, has found that some of the earliest cases had no exposure to the Huanan market.

Scientists and Chinese officials believe the deadly illness jumped to humans from wild animals, most likely via an intermediary species like bats. Close contact with wild animals at the market, which has been closed since January, has been widely blamed for the outbreak.

American Opposition

U.S. officials are calling for President Xi Jinping’s government to immediately close the markets, saying they are potential breeding grounds for disease. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week the coronavirus was a “direct result” of unsanitary markets and said it was “mind-boggling” that the markets remained open.

“I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that,” he said on “Fox and Friends.”

Republican lawmakers including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are urging Chinese officials not to reopen such markets. Graham last week sent a letter to the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. imploring him to pressure his government, saying “their operation should cease immediately.”

There also may be some semantic confusion. U.S. officials and others refer to wet markets generally while what they appear to be seeking to ban is the live animal trade in the markets.

“The closest thing to wet markets in Western countries are farmers’ markets where you can buy products from independent vendors,” said Jian Yi, founder of the Good Food Academy, an online platform advocating healthy eating. “People depend on wet markets for vegetables, fruits, meat and fish.”

For more on the end of Wuhan’s lockdown:
  • Chaos and Joy at Wuhan Airport as Doctors Take First Flights Out
  • Residents Rush Trains, Take to Highways as Wuhan Lifts Lockdown
  • Quick Rebound in Wuhan Car Sales Give Hope to Battered Industry
  • Wuhan Emerges From Lockdown With a Mission: Our Goal Is Survival

In any case, shuttering such markets would be next to impossible as they are crucial to the livelihood of millions of farmers and small business vendors and are a centerpiece of communities across China. A 2018 study from Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University and Hungry Cities Partnership, which looks at urban food systems, found 90% of households in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, with a population of more than eight million, bought food from wet markets -- with 75% visiting one at least five times a week.

Wet markets are popular in China because they’re convenient, and products are considered to be less expensive and fresher than in many supermarkets. While pigs, lambs and cows must be butchered in special slaughtering factories, rather than on site, meat sold at the markets isn’t packaged, and live fish and chickens are common.

Cracking Down

Although there are well-managed, hygienic wet markets in and near bigger cities, hygiene can be spotty, especially in smaller communities. Even before the virus outbreak, China’s central and local governments tried to regulate wild animal trading at markets, instituting occasional checks to improve sanitation.

China’s wild-animal farming industry was worth an estimated 520 billion yuan ($74 billion) in 2016 and employed more than 14 million people, according to the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Environmentalists, researchers and Chinese state media have called for stricter regulation of exotic animal trade in the markets.

Photos that circulated online in January showed animals including deer -- which aren’t commonly eaten in China -- and peacocks available for purchase at the Huanan market. This triggered an outcry over authorities’ negligence in ignoring loopholes that allow their purchase and sale as long as they’re bred on farms. Wild animals are categorized as those that aren’t commonly eaten.

China’s National Health Commission in January issued a temporary emergency order that Wuhan officials should “strictly manage” the markets and prohibit wild animals and live poultry from entering the city. Under pressure in February as the virus spread, the National People’s Congress announced a ban on trading wild terrestrial animals for the purpose of eating.

Still, the NPC’s decision didn’t cover the trade of exotic animals for use in traditional Chinese medicines, fashion or entertainment. Chinese medicine holds that some exotic animals have health benefits and has helped fuel the illegal smuggling and trade of species like the endangered pangolin, whose scales are believed to cure a variety of ailments.

“It’s misleading to focus on wet markets when we discuss the outbreak,” said Si, of the University of Waterloo. “It overshadows the true problem here, which is the supply chain of wild animals. We shouldn’t demonize wet markets because of the coronavirus outbreak.”

The Chinese government has been pushing for the resumption of economic activity now that the official infection numbers have been at a low level for weeks, trying to kick start consumption that all but disappeared during the outbreak.

The now-famous Huanan market remained closed this week, even as Wuhan gradually reopened. The smell of seafood wafted on the street, though the market was boarded up and guarded by police who stopped people from taking photos.

— With assistance by Sharon Chen, Chaoqun Kan, and Claire Che

Source: Read Full Article

Apple denies rumoured plot to kill off Dr Dre's iconic Beats headphone range

APPLE has denied it is plotting to shut down hugely popular headphones firm Beats By Dre.

The California audio company was bought by Apple in 2014 but recent rumours have suggested it will be retired after the first ever pair of Apple-branded headphones launches – potentially later this year.

However, 9To5Mac reports that this is not a strategy that Apple plans to pursue.

"The strategy is not one that should be viewed as being on the table for Apple," according to the tech site.

Apple has ploughed a lot of money into the Beats brand since acquiring it for roughly £2.5billion six years ago – the largest deal in the iPhone-maker's history.

Apple hardware has been incorporated into Beats products since 2016, including the Powerbeats3, Beats Solo 3, and BeatsX.

In recent years Apple has also begun to invest in its own audio tech, releasing several versions of its hugely popular earphones, the AirPods.

The firm is also heavily rumoured to be producing its first over-ear headphones, set for release some time in 2020.

On Monday, renowned tech leaker Jon Prosser claimed that Apple's eventual goal was to phase out Beats as it took headphone production into its own hands.

Eagle-eyed Apple fans also spotted that the company had begun heavily discounting Beats products on its website, in what some suggested was a move to clear stock.

However, an insider has told 9to5Mac that the reports are not true, and that Beats is safe for now.

Rumours of Apple's first pair of branded wireless headphones have rumbled for months.

The company has not officially confirmed it’s making any headphones, so take the rumours with a pinch of salt for now.

Apple has never released a pair of high end over-ear headphones, preferring to sell EarPods and AirPods and leaving the headphones market to Beats.

As Apple already owns Dre Beats, it’s possible that the design of the new headphones could look similar to them.

And if the headphones do exist, the are likely to be the high end, wireless, noise cancelling kind that focus on providing top sound quality.

It’s also likely that they would feature Siri integration too.

We may find out more around the time of Apple's next product launch event in September.

Why is Siri called Siri?

Here's the origin story of Apple's AI assistant…

  • Although the virtual Siri assistant lives on every iPhone, it wasn't actually created by Apple.
  • It was actually a spin-off project from the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center.
  • The tech was eventually bought up by Apple for the iPhone, but Apple had no say over the name.
  • No one has ever revealed who came up with Siri, but we do know why it was chosen.
  • Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer said the name Siri was picked because it's "easy to remember, short to type, comfortable to pronounce, and a not-too-common human name".
  • Writing in Forbes, he said: "Once Siri became the leading candidate, everyone on the team had their own favourite explanation of the meaning.
  • "Dag Kittlaus, our Norwegian-American CEO, once considered using Siri as the name of his child and liked the Norse meaning 'beautiful woman who leads you to victory'.
  • "For me, Siri, which means 'secret' in Swahili, was a tip of the hat to our pre-named days when we began as
  • "I also liked the fact that it was the reverse of Iris, a software system I helped build as part of the CALO project which Siri was spun out of.
  • "Some liked the resemblance to SRI, which was the research institute that ran the CALO project."
  • In any case, no one at the team expected Apple to actually keep the name – but Siri lived on.

In other news, Apple is also rumoured to be preparing a pair of AirPods Lite.

Find out how to disinfect your iPhone without breaking it.

And check out the world's best iPhone photos taken using Night Mode.

What new gadgets would you like to see from Apple this year? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Read Full Article

Banks Blame U.S. Rules for Snarling New Borrowers’ Virus Loans

In this article

U.S. banks, facing criticism for prioritizing existing customers over new ones who are seeking coronavirus rescue loans, put the blame on federal rules meant to catch terrorists and money launderers.

The lenders, who have been getting beaten up by small businesses and lawmakers alike, have urged a little-known agency charged with monitoring suspicious financial transactions for relief from the stringent regulations. But their requests have gone unheeded for now.

The issue is just one of a number of problems that have surfaced during the rollout of the $350 billion Small Business Administration lending program that began last week. If left unresolved it could cause a major logjam in the effort, which the Trump administration has demanded move quickly to get cash to hundreds of thousands of companies teetering on the edge of closure.

“Small businesses and policy makers should understand that a primary reason most banks will be extending these loans only to existing customers is because the anti-money laundering process is so onerous and time-consuming,” said Greg Baer, president of the Bank Policy Institute, a Washington-based trade group for lenders that has been working closely with the Treasury Department and SBA. “Banks large and small have urgently sought relief from these requirements from day one, to no avail.”

29,556 in U.S.Most new cases today

-21% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​008 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

Bad Recipe

To underscore its point, the industry estimates that even the initial steps of processing a new borrower’s application can add as much as two hours of work. And then verifying that the customer’s information is legitimate can take a month or longer. Bankers say it’s hardly a recipe for rapidly getting rescue funds out the door.

For borrowers, there’s a risk that much of the billions -- available on a first-come, first-served basis -- will be gone by the time their requests go through. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that “we will be running out of money very quickly” and that he has asked Congress to add another $250 billion by the end of the week.

The target of banks’ ire is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. Tensions between the industry and the agency aren’t new, as lenders have long lobbied Congress to roll back some of its rules, many of which were put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Coronavirus is giving firms a fresh opening to argue that FinCEN should be reined in.

A FinCEN spokesman pointed to a statement on the agency’s website that says it is “committed to promoting the success” of the new stimulus law, “including the need to facilitate expeditious disbursal” of funds. FinCEN plans to issue additional guidance as the law is rolled out and questions arise, the statement added.

Still Kinks

The SBA loan program, a crucial aspect of the government’s response to the virus-fueled crisis, is still a work in progress. Treasury issued guidelines for participating banks only last Thursday, the night before they were slated to begin processing loans. That in turn caused a number of banks, including some of the biggest like Wells Fargo & Co., to say they couldn’t immediately participate.

One major bank that did, Bank of America Corp., drew public scorn for saying it was first processing applications from existing clients. It was even sued over the decision last week.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on the suit. He said the lender has received some 250,000 applications seeking $40 billion, as of Tuesday evening.

Some members of Congress have also expressed frustration over who’s getting funds. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has flagged reports that banks were only lending to customers who had a credit card or had previously taken out a loan. Maryland lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, urged Treasury in a Tuesday letter to insist that applicants not be required to have existing relationships with banks.

Repeated Warnings

Bankers said they had repeatedly warned the Trump administration that money-laundering rules would lead to problems with the so-called Paycheck Protection Program. Still, some firms said they were surprised that FinCEN has been so unresponsive to their concerns because it resides within Treasury, which has been the epicenter of the government rescue effort. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, they said, has been very willing to cut red tape and address issues lenders have had that could slow down payouts.

A Treasury spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

FinCEN regulations impose tough know-your-customer requirements that force banks to be able to verify clients’ identities. For people, that often entails providing information like a driver’s license and Social Security number.

The process is more complex for businesses. Banks must check the identity of each person who owns more than 25% of the company, as well as any person that has control of its operations. That involves getting corporate documents as well as the standard information for individuals.

The industry says obtaining these details can add between 40 minutes and 120 minutes to the application intake process. And, depending on the complexity of the business’s ownership, it can require up to 30 more days for verification.

Shuttered Branches

Adding to the problems: both banks and small business customers are now working remotely because of the virus. Often, applications with smaller clients are done in person at branch offices.

To speed things up, the banks have asked FinCEN to let them collect the customer information and verify it after the loan application is processed. That would allow lenders to significantly cut the delays facing borrowers who don’t already have documents on file with a bank.

Though FinCEN hasn’t granted the request, it did provide some relief in another area. The agency issued guidance stipulating that banks providing the SBA loans don’t need to re-verify existing clients. Still, that doesn’t help with new customers.

Though analysts say there could be a significant amount of fraud in the SBA lending program, especially since banks aren’t required to vet a borrowers’ small business credentials, few think the loans will used to finance terrorism -- a prime target of FinCen’s rules.

Delaying Relief

Aaron Klein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who worked at Treasury in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, said well-intentioned regulations shouldn’t stand in the way of companies getting cash quickly.

“Delaying emergency relief to America’s small businesses in order to check for money laundering is counter to the spirit of the law and the well being of the nation,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

By A 10-to-1 Margin, Americans Support Orders To Stay At Home

By a roughly 10-to-1 margin, Americans say states with stay-at-home orders are making the right call, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted Friday and Saturday.  

An 81% majority of the public says it’s currently the right decision for states to tell residents to stay at home unless they have an essential reason for going out. Just 8% say it’s the wrong decision. An even broader 89% say they are personally trying to stay home as much as possible, with only 6% saying they’re not making any such effort.

This willingness to take precautions comes as Americans’ concerns about the potential effects of coronavirus continue to rise. Forty-six percent of Americans now say they’re very concerned they or a family member will contract the virus, doubling the share who said the same in a poll conducted less than a month ago.

A 58% majority say they’re very concerned about the spread of coronavirus across the U.S. 

Views of the government response to the coronavirus remain positive. Americans approve, 50% to 41%, of the way the U.S. government is handling issues related to the disease. By 50% to 44%, they approve of President Donald Trump’s response specifically.

About three-quarters of Americans say their daily life has changed at least somewhat compared with the start of the outbreak, with 47% saying their life has changed a lot. Most Americans say the outbreak has yet to significantly affect the quality of their finances, their eating and exercise habits, and their emotional health. But 31% say their finances are in worse shape than they were before the outbreak started, with 30% saying the same thing about their exercise habits, 22% about their eating habits and 35% about their emotional health.

The survey also asked respondents across the country to describe in their own words how the coronavirus outbreak and the nation’s response have affected them. Here are some of their responses, lightly edited for grammar, length and clarity.

  • “Family member is a nurse and I’m concerned about the lack of basic safety equipment.”

  • “I’m a registered nurse. Like lambs to the slaughter. We need appropriate N-95 masks.”

  • “My husband is a hospital chaplain and considered essential staff. He is currently quarantined away from us after being tested for COVID-19 today.”

  • “Have personally had contact with a few people who were hospitalized for the virus. I have been denied testing because I have not been out of the country; yet I have been in contact with someone who attended Mardi Gras!”

  • My 71-year-old brother passed away from the virus four days ago in New York.

  • “Unable to visit my husband in the nursing facility he resides in.”

  • “Confined to home, unable to see my son, afraid to go to the store.”

  • “I’m cut off from all family.”

  • “I have not left my property for more than a month.”

  • “Unable to work or live a normal life.”

  • “I don’t have any money. I don’t qualify for the stimulus check.”

  • “I’m scared at home, doing the best I can.”

  • “I’m terrified.”

  • “My whole way of life as I knew it has changed!!!”

  • “My church is closed and I can’t go shopping.”

  • “Shopping is a pain in the ass and my gym is closed.”

  • “Trips canceled, spring break ruined, going batty inside all day.”

  • “I am a kitchen manager in a diner. Of course this damn HOAX is killing a lot more of us and a hell of a lot faster than any freaking fake virus.”

  • “Loss of civil rights.”

  • “Loss of childcare.”

  • “Loss of sales.”

  • “Loss of freelance income.”

  • “Lost my job (after 10 years).”

  • “Loss of life of friend.”

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted April 3-4 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error.


  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Everything you need to know about face masks right now
  • How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
  • What to do if you can’t pay rent now
  • How to switch off from work when home is your office
  • 8 sleep tips if coronavirus anxiety is keeping you up at night
  • How long does coronavirus live in the air?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
  • Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.

Source: Read Full Article