White House warns states against reopening too early » At the White House on Wednesday, President Trump and top officials warned states against moving to reopen their economies too soon.
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned…
FAUCI: I plead with the American public, with the governors, with the mayors, with the people with responsibility, although I know one has that need to leapfrog over things, don’t do that.
And President Trump called out Georgia Governor Brian Kemp by name. The Republican governor did leapfrog over federal guidelines this week. Those guidelines call for a consistent 2-week downward trend in new coronavirus cases before moving to Phase One of restarting a state’s economy. Georgia’s downward trend began less than a week ago.
Still, Kemp announced plans to reopen most businesses, including gyms, nail salons, and dine-in restaurants, under certain conditions, over the next four days.
TRUMP: Would I do that? No. I keep them a little longer. I want to protect people’s lives, but I’m going to let him make his decision. But I told him, I totally disagree.
Also on Wednesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield sought to clarify earlier remarks about the impact of the coronavirus in the fall.
Some headlines suggested Redfield warned a fall outbreak could be even worse than the current one. Redfield said that was not his intended message. He said his concern is that even a lesser outbreak of the coronavirus coupled with the seasonal flu could make for a very “difficult” fall season. Redfield said he’s urging all Americans to get the flu vaccine this year.
Pompeo calls out China over continued coverup » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday made perhaps his most forceful statement to date against China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Pompeo said the Chinese government has withheld information about the virus at every stage of the outbreak leading to the global pandemic.
POMPEO: It covered up how dangerous the disease is. It didn’t report sustained human-to-human transmission for a month until it was inside of every province in China. It censored those who tried to warn the world in order to halt the testing of new samples and it destroyed existing samples.
And he added Chinese Communist Party “still has not shared the virus sample from inside of China.”
Tyson temporarily closes vital pork processing plant amid outbreak » Tyson Foods suspended operations Wednesday at an Iowa plant that is critical to the nation’s pork supply. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The company has temporarily closed its largest pork plant, which had become a hotspot for COVID-19.
More than 180 infections have been linked to the Waterloo, Iowa plant. Officials expect that number to dramatically rise and will begin testing the plant’s nearly 3,000 workers tomorrow.
The facility was already running at reduced capacity. In addition to those who tested positive for the coronavirus, hundreds of workers stayed home out of fear.
The closure blocks a vital market for hog farmers and further disrupts U.S. meat supply. Tyson had kept the facility open in recent days over the objections of alarmed local officials.
The plant can process almost 20,000 hogs per day and accounts for about 4 percent of the country’s pork.
Many other meat processing plants have temporarily closed due to virus outbreaks.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
First COVID-19 deaths came earlier than thought » California officials announced Wednesday that two people in the northern part of the state died of COVID-19—weeks before what officials thought was the nation’s first death in Kirkland, Washington.
Sara Cody is Santa Clara County’s health officer.
CODY: What these deaths tell us is that we had community transmission, probably to a significant degree far earlier than we had known.
The first patient, a 57-year-old woman, died February 6th. The second, a 69-year-old man, died February 17th. Neither had traveled outside the country.
The new timeline suggests the virus was circulating in California in late January, if not earlier. The first confirmed U.S. infection was reported in Seattle on January 21st.
Kentucky church reaches deal to continue drive-in services » A Kentucky church previously blocked from holding drive-in services has reached a deal with local officials to continue meeting. WORLD’s Paul Butler has that story.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On Fire Christian Church had previously won a temporary restraining order against the city of Louisville. That stopped Mayor Greg Fischer from enforcing his demand that churches stop holding meetings in their parking lots.
Under the new deal, the church can hold services as long as it follows social distancing guidelines. The church’s staff already required members to stay in their cars with the windows rolled down no more than half way and park 6 feet apart.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
Trump issues warning after Iran launches satellite » Iran’s Revolutionary Guard took a step toward advancing the country’s long-range missile program Tuesday with the launch of a military satellite, a first for the elite guard.
General John Hyten is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During a press briefing at the Pentagon he declined to say whether the launch successfully put a satellite in orbit.
HYTEN: But it went a very long way, which means it has the ability once again to threaten their neighbors, our allies. And we want to make sure that they can never threaten the United States.
After Iran announced the launch, President Trump issued a warning on Twitter that the Navy would shoot at any Iranian vessels that come too close to U.S. ships.
Last week, 11 gunboats operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard made what the U.S. Navy called “dangerous and harassing approaches” to several American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Such incidents happened frequently several years ago but had become more rare.