Doctor Drops Some Coronavirus Truth Bombs On Fox News, Lights Up Twitter

A doctor’s no-holds-barred analysis of coronavirus testing shortcomings is going viral ― not just because of his blunt talk but because of where he made his case: live on Fox News.

Dr. Rishi Desai, chief medical officer of the Osmosis website, vigorously shook his head “no” as Fox News host Martha MacCallum mentioned, as President Donald Trump has, that there were supposed to be millions of tests available. She also said people were still waiting for a quick test for COVID-19. 

Desai responded with a fact-check.

“Yeah, they’re working on it,” he said. “They should’ve been working on it for months.”

Desai noted that the World Health Organization had issued a warning about the virus on Dec. 31, 2019. 

“We knew coronavirus was coming, we knew that it was a respiratory disease, we knew it was person-to-person,” he said. 

Yet it’s only now that the FDA approved a 15-minute test and even it has shortcomings. Then, Desai explained how South Korea was able to get ahead of the situation by testing early and often. 

“Look at what South Korea did, and what we did,” he said. “Their population is one-sixth of ours. Look at the cases they have. Look at the mortality they have. It’s a trifle compared to what we’re dealing with right now because we’ve had a very weak response and they had a really strong response.”  

MacCallum wrapped up the segment: 

In the longer interview on the Fox News website, Desai also called for a nationwide shutdown. 

“We would see a drop off in cases within two weeks,” he said. “Within two weeks, the number of cases would start to fall, and the entire country would breathe a sigh of relief.” 

Desai quickly found a new fanbase as his name trended on Twitter: 

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Trump Spends First Half Of Coronavirus Briefing Discussing War On Drugs

President Donald Trump spent nearly an hour speaking about drug cartels and military efforts to rein in smuggling operations on Wednesday as many Americans are desperately worried about the spread of COVID-19, the illness killing thousands of people around the country.

“There’s a growing threat that cartels, criminals and other malign actors will try to exploit the crisis for their own gain,” the president declared from the White House during his daily briefing on the coronavirus. “We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives.” 

Trump, flanked by military officials and the attorney general, said the U.S. would begin new “counter-narcotics operations” using a network of Navy and Coast Guard ships. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cited figures that 70,000 Americans die each year due to drugs, a number he called “unacceptable.”

“We came upon some intelligence some time ago that the drug cartels as a result of COVID-19 were going to try to take advantage of the situation and try to infiltrate additional drugs into our country,” Milley said. “We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists, we’re at war with drug cartels as well.” 

The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the nation and has now infected more than 213,000 people as many states urge residents to shelter in place for the foreseeable future. The nationwide death toll has surpassed 4,000, nearly 2,000 of those deaths in New York, an epicenter of the outbreak.

The president did speak about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic during the last half of the briefing, regularly calling the virus a “scourge” and saying America was waging an “all-out war” to defeat it.

Those assurances came amid reports the federal stockpile of emergency medical supplies — masks, face shields, gowns and ventilators ― was nearly empty. Governors around the nation have been pleading for more protective equipment to supply hospitals already facing an onslaught of infected patients, but the New York, Illinois and California governors have said they’ve received far less than what they need.

Trump confirmed in the briefing that the stockpile had run low, but said it had happened because the White House had been directing so many supplies to states. He said the country had about 10,000 ventilators ready to be shipped out.

“We have to have the flexibility of moving the ventilators to where the virus is going,” the president said, describing one of the most-requested items needed to treat direly ill Americans. “We have a nice pile of ventilators, we have a lot more coming in.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned earlier this week that up to 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus even if current social distancing measures remain in place.

On Wednesday, officials said those social distancing measures had extended somewhat to the military as the U.S. continues its operations abroad.

But Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the armed forces had no plans to scale down its global operations, instead instituting a bevy of social distancing and isolation measures to protect servicemen and servicewomen from infection.

“There seems to be some narrative out there that we should shut down the entire United States military: That’s not feasible,” Esper said. “We work in cramped quarters, it’s the nature of our business. We have a job to do and we will continue to do it.”

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
  • Heads up: Not all your tax deadlines have been postponed
  • I just got out of a COVID-19 ICU. Here’s how I made it through.
  • How to make a no-sew coronavirus face mask
  • Why some people might have trouble getting their coronavirus rebates payments
  • What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19
  • There’s a simple game that can stop a tantrum cold
  • 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 – and keep it free for everyone – by becoming a HuffPost member today.
     

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London Living Wage 2020: What is the London Living Wage?

Unlike the minimum wage, which is designed only to account for food and housing, the living wage takes into consideration other essential needs like clothing and other basic necessities. The goal of a living wage is to allow workers to earn enough to prevent them and their family falling below the poverty line.

What is the London Living Wage?

The Government website states: “The London living wage is calculated to independently reflect the high cost of living in the capital, giving a worker in London and their family enough to afford the essential and save.

“However, organisations must choose to pay their employees the London Living Wage – higher that what they are required to pay by law.

“This is why the Mayor of London is championing the benefits of the Living Wage – to the lives of Londoners and to your business – and encouraging employers to opt in.”

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The Government states the benefits of businesses paying the Living Wage:

  • See reduced absenteeism and sick leave
  • Find it easier to recruit and retain staff
  • See a huge boost to staff morale and productivity
  • See improved brand awareness

Currently, over 1,500 employers pay the London Living Wage, which stands at £10.75 per hour.

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What is the difference between the national living wage and minimum wage?

The National Living Wage is a scheme introduced by the Government in 2016 and is branded as being a higher minimum wage.

The Living Wage is only paid out to people 25 and over, while minimum wage applies to any of school-leaving age.

The current National Living Wage stands at £8.21, having increased from £7.83.

The minimum wage is a rate calculated on a negotiated settlement, based on recommendations from trade unions and businesses.

The real living wage is an independently calculated wage rate which aims to be slightly higher than the cost of living in the UK, and London in particular.

This is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and takes into account rental costs, council tax, public transport or travel costs and shopping.

The Government states: “The minimum wage a worker should get depends on their age if they’re an apprentice.

“The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to.

“The National Living Wage is higher than the National Minimum Wage – workers get it if they’re over 25.

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  • Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates are rising today

“It does not matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay the correct minimum wage.”

You can use the minimum wage calculator to see if the correct wages are being paid out.

The Government has promised the National Living Wage will rise to more than £10.50 an hour in 2024, compared to the £8.21 workers are currently paid.

The new rate will apply to everyone aged 21 and over, as opposed to 25, which is the current policy.

While the new rates are welcomed by people on minimum and living wage rates, they will not apply to the self-employed.

The TUC (Trade Union Congress|) estimates that half of adults 25 and over, who are self-employed, earn less than the minimum wage – equating a total of 2million people.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the move in his Budget, which was delivered early March.

Mr Sunak said: “It was a Conservative government that in 2016 introduced the national living wage, giving Britain’s lowest-paid workers the biggest pay rise in 20 years.

“And in just three weeks’ time, about 2million workers will see their wage rise again by 6.2 percent – for a full-time worker, that’s a pay rise of almost £1,000. This is the biggest cash increase ever,

“As long as economic conditions allow, by 2024 the National Living Wage will reach two-thirds of median earnings. We promised to end low pay – we’re getting it done.”

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Sony Establishes $100M COVID-19 Global Relief Fund

Sony Corp said today that it has launched a $100M fund to support those affected by the coronavirus. Titled the Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19, the electronics and entertainment giant’s pledge will provide assistance in three areas: individuals engaged in frontline medical and first responder efforts to fight the virus; support for children and educators who must now work remotely; and support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry.

With the new fund, Sony joins other entertainment and media companies such as Netflix which has pledged $100M to help workers hardest-hit by the outbreak in the television and film industry. Facebook has also said it will give $100M to small businesses in more than 30 countries in an effort to boost the global economy, and is working with the World Health Organization to remove fake news about the virus from its platforms.

Sony said that across the creative community such as music, pictures, games and animation, together with its group companies, it will seek ways to support up-and-coming creators, artists and all those in professions supporting the industry who have been impacted by the cancellation or postponement of concerts and live events, or the shutting down of film and TV productions.

In terms of medical support, $10M has been earmarked for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund at the World Health Organization which is powered by the UN Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, as well as Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist medical workers and others on the frontline of response efforts. The Tokyo-based conglomerate will also work with its external partners to explore ways that it can support activities that prevent the further spread and contribute to treatment of COVID-19.

In the area of education, where children are losing education opportunities as a result of school closures, Sony will explore ways to leverage its technologies in support of education activities, and cooperate with educators to implement these measures.

Sony also said that its roughly 110K employees worldwide will be able to provide their support through a matching gift program.

Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony Corp President and CEO, said, “Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted. In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community.”

Going forward, Sony added it will work together with its partners and stakeholders to explore ways to further extend the initiatives.

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Credit card and overdraft changes proposed – Martin Lewis on ‘important change’

People who are struggling to repay loan repayments and cover overdraft charges look set to be granted temporary relief under new measures proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today. The city watchdog is asking banks to offer customers hit financially by coronavirus, who have an existing arranged overdraft, the ability to request that up to £500 on their main personal current account is provided at zero percent for up to three months.

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The FCA has also suggested people facing financial challenges due to coronavirus would be able to ask for a three-month payment freeze, or the option to pay a nominal payment on credit cards, store cards and catalogue credit.

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive of the FCA, said: “Coronavirus has caused an unprecedented financial shock with far-reaching consequences for consumers in every corner of the UK.

“If confirmed, this package of measures we are proposing today will help provide affected consumers with the temporary financial support they need to help them weather the storm during this challenging time.”

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, Martin Lewis shared his comments on the proposals.

He said: “I think this is very important news.”

The Money Saving Expert founder added that considering new FCA rules on overdraft charges were due to come into effect this month, he felt it was an “important change”.

Mr Lewis added: “Some banks have already been offering forebearance.

“To have a banking lottery aboult how well each company will behave in these unprecedented times isn’t fair.”

Addressing the proposal of a three-month freeze on credit products such as credit cards, loans and store cards, Mr Lewis said he was “much more cautious about this”.

He explained that “it doens’t mean they can’t charge interest, and he added that “that interest will continue to add up”.

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Coronavirus pushes Boeing to offer early retirement, buyouts

Boeing CEO: Important for US government to reopen credit markets

Boeing CEO David Calhoun, in a wide-ranging interview, addresses production disruptions and plans to support the company throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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Boeing Co. is expected to begin offering early retirement and buyout packages to its workforce as the plane maker comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic’s deepening toll on the global aviation industry, people familiar with the matter said.

An internal announcement was expected as soon as early Thursday, one of these people said.

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The Chicago-based aerospace giant is the largest U.S.exporter and one of the nation’s largest manufacturing employers. It has previously announced steps including a freeze on hiring and overtime as it seeks to preserve cash amid turmoil in the credit markets and a broader economic downturn.

Boeing’s airline customers and some of its suppliers have already sought to cut labor costs—with measures including layoffs and voluntary leave without pay—as the pandemic wreaks havoc across the air-travel and aerospace industries.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BA BOEING COMPANY 130.70 -18.44 -12.36%

Boeing, whose workforce numbers approximately 160,000, hasn’t announced any layoffs, even after cutting and then suspending production of its 737 MAX jet in January and assembly of most wide-body planes last month.

CORONAVIRUS NOT IMPACTING 737 MAX PLANS: BOEING CEO

Almost 65,000 of its employees build commercial aircraft, and a further 25,000 work in the unit that provides spares and services to airlines.

Executives have said they were seeking to avoid layoffs as they sought taxpayer help to ease its financial strain and plan for a recovery.

BOEING CEO: NO GOVERNMENT EQUITY STAKE IN CORONAVIRUS AID

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun has said he wants to prepare for when the crisis abates. “I have to keep my workforce in place and we have got to be ready when the recovery comes,” he said last week in an interview on Fox Business Network.

Boeing sought at least $60 billion in government aid for itself, its suppliers and the broader aerospace sector. The company hasn’t said whether it will seek loans under a $2 trillion stimulus package approved in Washington, D.C., last week. Some of the aid would come with restrictions on layoffs.

As the pandemic worsened in March, Boeing suspended its dividend and temporarily halted production at its Everett, Wash., factory north of Seattle.

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Its share price doubled last week as investors bought on expectations that government aid would ease a liquidity squeeze, but has fallen sharply in recent days as analysts warned that more airlines may seek to cancel orders or be unable to take new planes.

Write to Andrew Tangel at [email protected]

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European Shares Fall After Two-day Rally

European stocks fell on Thursday as lingering worries about a global recession prompted traders to book some profits after sharp gains in the previous two sessions.

Also, weak data from Germany and the U.K. overshadowed optimism from a historic $2 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus deal.

German consumer confidence is set to decline sharply to the lowest in more than a decade in April as the increase in the number of coronavirus infection cases and the accompanying measures made consumers to take cautious approach, survey data from market research group GfK showed.

The forward-looking consumer confidence index fell to 2.7 from 8.3 in March. The score was forecast to fall moderately to 7.7 from March’s initially estimated value of 9.8. During the financial and economic crisis, the consumer climate index was at 2.6 points.

U.K. retail sales dropped 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in February, in contrast to a 1.1 percent rise in January and confounding expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed.

Investors also await the interest rate announcement from the Bank of England.

Economists expect the bank to retain its record low interest rate and to expand asset purchase program to GBP 635 billion from GBP 435 billion.

The pan European Stoxx 600 dropped 1.8 percent to 307.67 after rallying 3.1 percent the previous day.

The German DAX fell 2.4 percent, France’s CAC 40 index gave up 2.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 1.9 percent.

Electricals retailer Dixons Carphone rose over 1 percent. The company has warned that it would not meet its forecast for 2019-20 profit and debt.

Weir Group, a company engaged in engineering businesses, lost 3.6 percent after withdrawing its 2020 guidance.

Kuka AG, a manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation, fell 2.6 percent after reporting its fiscal 2019 results.

Fraport advanced 1.6 percent. The company said it has proposed to the Annual General Meeting to carry forward net profits of the financial year 2019 entirely into revenue reserves, citing the recent developments of the coronavirus pandemic.

Drillisch climbed 3.8 percent. The telecommunication service provider expects revenue and earnings for fiscal year 2020 to be roughly on a par with the level of the previous year.

SMA Solar surged 14 percent after narrowing its FY19 loss.

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Webjet lands raising but full recovery the ‘great unknown’

Webjet boss John Guscic says a capital raising underway will ensure it survives the coronavirus shutdown but the path to a full industry recovery remains the "great unknown".

The ASX-listed travel booking group completed a $231 million institutional offering at $1.70 a share on Thursday and announced a fully underwritten $115 million retail raising will open next week, bringing the size of the raising to $346 million.

Webjet managing director John Guscic.Credit:Arsineh Houspian

American investment bank Bain Capital has become a significant shareholder through the raising, the company said, taking on a $25 million stake or about 6 per cent of shares after the raising is complete.

Mr Guscic said the company had gone from $14 million in daily sales in January to $250,000 this week, underscoring the need to recapitalise the business. “We wanted to be first out to market not the last, ensuring that in a scenario of zero revenue for the balance of calendar 2020 that we would have the opportunity of getting to the other side and still have all the strategic elements of our business that have enabled us to be successful," he said.

The company now had enough liquidity to last to the end of the 2021 financial year, Mr Guscic said, but how long it would take for Webjet and the travel industry to recover was unclear.

"Global markets won’t lose their appetite for travel in the longer term and it will be a less competitive dynamic as a result of smaller players falling the wayside," he said. "We think that we have a great capacity to compete in the new world, it's just unclear when that starts."

Webjet had considered a funding and equity deal from private equity firm KKR as an alternative to the market offer. While declining to comment on KKR's involvement, Mr Guscic said the company went with an option that raised the cash it needed while avoiding diluting existing shareholders. Ninety per cent of shareholders took up their pro-rata one-for-one entitlement.

Mr Guscic said he was “extremely appreciative” of ASX relaxing placement rules during the COVID-19 crisis to enable Webjet to complete its offer with a placement equal to 25 per cent of existing shares, which is normally capped at 15 per cent.

Webjet's shares resumed trading on Thursday after being in a trading halt since March 19. The stock had fallen almost 19 per cent to $3.06 at 2pm. Shares were trading at $13.07 in early January before the coronavirus caused the global travel industry to grind to a halt.

The company said this week it would defer its first-half dividend, make 440 employees redundant, and cut board and executive pay by 60 per cent.

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SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Cuts Premiums In Half Due To COVID-19 Crisis; “Relief Is On The Way” Union Leaders Say

The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan is cutting premiums in half for tens of thousands of participants for the next three months. The move is effective today, “in response to the COVID-19 emergency,” the Plan said today.

Participants, except those receiving “Senior Performers” coverage, will save between $450-$855 over the three months, depending on the type of coverage, and those on COBRA will save between $460-$1,168 a month.

“Relief is on the way,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White told their members today. “The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has announced it is temporarily reducing premiums by 50% during the second quarter.”

“In response to the COVID-19 emergency,” the Plan said today on its website, “the Health Plan is temporarily reducing premiums by 50% during the second quarter (April, May and June) only, for all eligible Plan I, Plan II and COBRA participants covered by the Plan as of March 1, 2020. This change is effective on April 1, 2020.”

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It notes, however, that “If you have Senior Performers coverage, including Senior Performers with Active coverage, you will not receive a premium reduction.” Those with this coverage with no spouse or with spouse age 65 and over pay between $60-$187 a month, while those with spouses under $65 pay $120-187 a month. The Plan didn’t say why they’re excluded from the relief, which would have saved them between $30-$94 a month.

Here’s the link to the Plans’ site on the changes in premiums.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives and effectively shut down work for so many of us,” Carteris and White told their members. “Please know that through all of this, the union’s core functions, including residuals processing and contract enforcement, continue. In March alone we processed 312,000 residuals checks totaling $73 million.”

Here’s their full message.

“We are writing today,” they said, “with news of relief efforts from our union, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, the federal government, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, and SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund.”

Other elements of the union’s relief efforts include “targeted” dues relief for members in the form of a deadline extension, and a newly formed COVID-19 Relief Fund that will be administered by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund.

It’s open to eligible SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by the pandemic. It covers members who are in an emergency financial crisis related to COVID-19 to help with basic expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills, and other essentials.

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