Wednesday morning news – May 13, 2020

Dr. Fauci, other health officials testify about coronavirus and U.S. response » The top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned states on Tuesday not to cut corners in their efforts to reopen. 

Fauci testified virtually from home to members of the Senate about the coronavirus outbreak and the government’s response. He said the trends are positive, but we can’t afford to overestimate our progress. 

FAUCI: The curve looks flat with some slight coming down. So I think we’re going in the right direction. But the right direction does not mean that we have by any means total control of this outbreak. 

Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, helped create the administration’s guidelines for reopening. He cautioned that if local governments “skip over the checkpoints” in those guidelines for phased reopening, it could set the country back in its efforts to return to normal.

Fauci also said he’s hopeful that current research will result in more than one possible vaccine. 

Several other top health officials also testified. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said adequate testing is a critical key to jumpstarting the economy. To that point, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said his agency is closely examining COVID-19 tests. 

HAHN: FDA is helping to ensure the availability of tests that are providing accurate answers. We are also monitoring the marketplace for fraudulent tests and are taking appropriate action to protect the public health. 

Last week, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Quidel Corporation for its new antigen test, which can provide results in minutes. Antigen tests could eventually be developed for at-home use by consumers.

Russian spokesman hospitalized with COVID-19 as Russia passes U.K. in total cases » Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and his wife have been hospitalized with COVID-19 just as Russia passes the U.K. in total reported cases. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Kremlin says the 52-year-old Peskov is in “satisfactory” condition.

Several other top Russian officials have also tested positive. 

The announcement of his hospitalization came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was slowing the outbreak and announced he was easing some restrictions. 

But many are questioning Putin’s response to the pandemic. 

The country reported a single-day record high of nearly 12,000 new cases on Monday and a record 107 deaths the next day. The country now has a reported total of 232,000 cases, surpassing the U.K. That’s second only to the United States, though many experts question reported numbers from China. And Russia has only recently ramped up testing for the virus. 

What’s more, many Russian healthcare workers are falling ill with the virus as many complain that protective gear is in short supply. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

Republicans gain at least one U.S. House seat in special elections » Republicans may be on the brink of doing something they haven’t done in more than 20 years—flipping a U.S. House seat in California. 

The battleground was the state’s relatively purple 25th District. That includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. 

As of 11 p.m. Pacific Time, with most of the votes in, former Navy fighter pilot and political newcomer Mike Garcia led Democratic state lawmaker Christy Smith by about 12 points. That was with 76 percent of the ballots counted. 

The winner will serve out the rest of the term of former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who resigned amid a scandal in October. But both candidates will be back on the ballot again in November.  

Garcia did not claim victory last night, nor did Smith concede.

But another Republican did declare victory Tuesday in another special election. Trump-backed state Senator Tom Tiffany easily defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker for the U.S House seat in Wisconsin’s rural 7th District. 

TIFFANY: I have one goal as I go out to Washington D.C., and that is to get America back up on her feet again. 

He’ll fill a seat left vacant after GOP Congressman Sean Duffy stepped down in September, citing the health of his daughter.

Series of attacks kill at least 39 people in Afghanistan » A series of violent assaults in Afghanistan left nearly 40 people dead on Tuesday, including newborns and mothers at a maternity hospital. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Three militants attacked a maternity clinic in Kabul run by Doctors Without Borders. That sparked an hourslong shootout with police—killing at least 14 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers, and several nurses. 

No group claimed responsibility. ISIS and the Taliban are both active in the region, though the Taliban has denied involvement. 

Also on Tuesday, in nearby Nangarhar province, a suicide bomber killed 24 people and injured nearly 70 others at a funeral, and a bomb exploded in a market south of Kabul, killing one child and injuring 10 others.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Major League Baseball pitches players on plan for shortened season » Major League Baseball owners have signed off on a plan to begin a shortened season in late July. And league officials are said to be pitching the players’ union on that plan this week. 

Under the proposal, each team would play 82 regular-season games, largely limited to opponents within the same region. And the league would expand postseason play from 10 clubs to 14 by doubling wild cards in each league to four.

Also, the designated hitter would be expanded to the National League to reduce injury risks to pitchers in the truncated season.

There would be no fans in attendance for the foreseeable future. But teams would still play home games in their own stadiums if local and state regulations allow it.

Negotiations will be difficult. Player’s union officials are already balking at a proposed revenue split between teams and players.

(Win McNamee/Pool via AP) Senators listen as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks remotely during a virtual Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

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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