Tuesday morning news – April 14, 2020

Deadly storms sweep through the south » Severe weather has swept across the South from Easter Sunday into Monday morning—killing at least 30 people. At least 40 tornadoes ripped apart hundreds of homes and buildings across several states.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards toured the destruction in and around the city of Monroe.

EDWARDS: I was personally stuck by just how much damage we saw today in Ouachita Parish. 

Although twisters damaged or flattened hundreds of homes in the area, officials there reported no fatalities.

But 11 people died in neighboring Mississippi and six more in northwest Georgia. And South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said Monday that storms had a “devastating impact on [his] state.” 

SCOTT: In Seneca County we’ve lost at least one life; Hampton County, at least three deaths. Over 274,000 living in the Carolinas without power in the midst of a pandemic.  

Officials reported five more fatalities in South Carolina for a total of nine. First responders also pulled bodies from damaged homes in Arkansas and North Carolina.

Navy sailor from coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier dies » A sailor from an aircraft carrier stricken by the coronavirus died Monday of complications related to COVID-19. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The sailor served on the USS Theodore Roosevelt before falling ill and testing positive for the coronavirus on March 30th. The Navy placed him in “isolation housing” along with four other sailors at the U.S. Navy base in Guam. 

Last Thursday, he was found unresponsive and was rushed to the naval hospital’s intensive care unit. The Navy did not immediately identify the sailor. 

Among the ship’s nearly 5,000 crew members, almost 600 have tested positive for the coronavirus. That includes the aircraft carrier’s now former skipper. Captain Brett E. Crozier tested positive just days after being fired for the way he expressed his concern that the Navy had done too little to safeguard his crew. Crozier’s letter voicing his concerns was leaked to the press. His superiors said he violated the chain of command. 

Officials say all of the other coronavirus patients from the Theodore Roosevelt are in good or stable condition and none are in intensive care.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Trump retweets #FireFauci but White House says he’s staying » President Trump said Monday that he has no intention of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

That came a day after Trump shared—or retweeted—a post from a Twitter user about Fauci that ended with the hashtag “#FireFauci.” 

The nation’s top infectious disease expert appeared to anger the president in a Sunday interview. CNN host Jake Tapper asked him about a report that the White House coronavirus task force wanted Trump to call for social distancing much earlier than he did. Fauci did not dispute the report and said implementing the guidelines sooner would have saved lives. 

FAUCI: If we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then. 

Trump then retweeted a post that said “Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and [the coronavirus] posed no threat to the U.S. public at large.” That tweet ended with the words “Time to #fireFauci”

But the president told reporters at the White House…

TRUMP: I’m not firing him. I think he’s a wonderful guy.
REPORTER: Why did you retweet something that said fire Fauci?
TRUMP: I retweeted somebody. I don’t know. They said fire. Doesn’t matter.
REPORTER: Did you notice that when you retweeted it?
TRUMP: Yeah, I notice everything.

The president said the “#FireFauci” hashtag was just “somebody’s opinion.”

For his part, Fauci on Monday tried to walk back his remarks. He said the very first time he and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx formally asked the president to call for social distancing, they debated it. 

FAUCI: Obviously there would be concern by some that in fact that might have some negative consequences. Nonetheless, the president listened to the recommendation and went to the mitigation. 

He said the president also later took their recommendation to extend the guidance to 30 days.

Exec warns nation’s meat supply is in jeopardy amid shutdowns » Some food processing plants are temporarily shutting down over health concerns. And one company executive is warning that the country’s meat supply is in jeopardy. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Virginia-based Smithfield Foods announced this week that it is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls until further notice. That after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem urged the company to close the plant for now.

The plant employs nearly 4,000 people. Health officials say 730 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota and about 40 percent of them work at the plant.

But Smithfield president and CEO Kenneth Sullivan Sullivan said the company feels an obligation to help feed the country. He said—quote—“We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”

He warned in a statement—quoting here—“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Aaron Pais kicks around debris at a mobile home park after a tornado hit on Monday, April 13, 2020, in Chatsworth, Ga. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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