The United States Has The Most Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In The World

The United States hit a grim milestone on Thursday, becoming the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. 

The U.S. had more than 82,000 reported cases across all 50 states and U.S. territories, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It has now surpassed China’s and Italy’s coronavirus case totals, previously the highest in the world. The next highest case numbers are in Spain, France, Germany and Iran.

More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, so far. Several countries still have more deaths linked to COVID-19 than the U.S., including Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France, per the World Health Organization. 

In New York, the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. at this point, there were more than 37,000 confirmed cases across the state as of Thursday, and more than 385 people had died. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned that the state’s hospitals will likely become overwhelmed. 

As broad swaths of the United States have ordered nonessential businesses to shutter and millions of residents to stay at home, nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week alone — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. 

The Senate passed a $2 trillion economic rescue legislation package on Wednesday, which includes expanded unemployment insurance benefits. The House is expected to pass it without making changes on Friday.

President Donald Trump spent weeks repeatedly downplaying the virus, and earlier this week expressed his hope that the country would reopen in time for Easter — in less than three weeks. Meanwhile cases and death tolls are mounting in the U.S., and experts are calling for continued measures that enforce widespread social distancing to stem the spread of the virus. 

After weeks of states demanding more capacity to test people for the virus — including actual complete test kits from the federal government — testing has only recently begun to ramp up nationwide, with the numbers of confirmed positive cases expected to mount accordingly. 

Meanwhile, states have called out the lack of critical medical equipment, like ventilators, and hospitals and health workers have reported a shortage of personal protective equipment they need to stay healthy while treating patients with the virus. 

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Harvard Professor Makes Ominous Prediction About Number Of Coronavirus Cases In U.S.

Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health, on Monday issued a stark warning about the dearth of testing for the coronavirus in the U.S.

In an opinion column for The Washington Post, Lipsitch ripped “the feckless federal response” in speeding up testing delays, which he said meant “most cases here are not being confirmed, even now.”

He said the true number of people infected with the virus in the U.S. could be more than 10 times higher than the confirmed figure. As of Tuesday morning, the virus had sickened more than 46,000 nationwide. It had killed 582.

“Even though many places are reporting relatively small numbers of confirmed cases, this is not comforting,” Lipsitch wrote. “In many parts of the country, we are seeing rising numbers of flu-like illnesses that when tested, are not flu, and may well actually be COVID-19 if only we could test them.”

He added: “If we can scale up testing and reduce case numbers through effective social distancing, we should consider testing very widely and resuming isolation and tracing, which work best in synergy with social distancing.”

Check out Lipsitch’s full op-ed here.

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Why Olympic Athletes Are Begging the IOC to Postpone Tokyo 2020

U.S. sprinter Manteo Mitchell has a subwoofer that, in better days, amps up the studio in his house. Lately it also stands in as a 15-pound weight for the aspiring Olympian’s at-home workouts. When he needs 2.5 pounds, he grabs a heavy-duty candle. His typical training facility — the University of North Carolina Asheville — is closed, along with his backup gym and his second backup gym, all as part of the global effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Where and how to train is one problem. What to train for is another. All of Mitchell’s upcoming races — where he’d hoped to run a 400-meter time fast enough to get him to the U.S. team trials — have been canceled. “I’m still training as if I’m going to get a call that says, ‘There’s a race for you, go do it,’” said Mitchell, who won a silver medal at the 2012 London Games. “And whenever that happens, I just need to drop my time. As long as I have a lane, I have an opportunity.”

Mitchell, 32, is just one of thousands of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls around the world whose carefully planned training has been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unable to train or, in some cases, leave their homes, athletes and coaches have been the loudest call yet for the International Olympic Committee to take the unprecedented step of postponing the 2020 summer games, scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo. 

Team Canada said Sunday it would keep its athletes home, not only out of concern for the conditions in Tokyo in July, but for everything leading up to the games. “It is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training,” the team said in a statement. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country’s indefinite international travel ban applied to its Olympic delegation, and the national Olympic committee told athletes to “start training for 2021.”

International and Japanese officials, after long resisting any hint of disruption, now say they are listening. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that the current state of the world wasn’t appropriate for the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee is now considering different possibilities, President Thomas Bach said, following weekend appeals from USA Swimming and USA Track and Field — which together won 29 gold medals and more than half of the country’s 121 total at the 2016 Rio Games. The IOC should have a decision in roughly four weeks, Bach said, though many expect it to come sooner. 

Until there is certainty, athletes will continue to train as best as they can, often in defiance of social-distancing protocols and other containment advice. “Holding trials and the Olympics as currently scheduled provides impetus for athletes, some of whom can’t even leave their homes right now by law, to defy public-health orders and advice given by medical authorities,” U.S. swimmer and 2016 Olympian Jacob Pebley said in a letter to the sport’s governing body.

That’s also raised questions of basic fairness. In Italy, the epicenter for the European outbreak, athletes have been almost entirely unable to train. In Norway, the Olympic team’s official training center in Oslo remains open to a rotating group of 25 athletes, chosen by their federations as potential medal contenders. As of at least last week, Australia’s high-performance rowing facilities were still open for Olympic athletes, and swimmers received special permission to stay in their local programs. 

The national teams themselves are starting to speak up. Last week, officials from the France, Germany and Great Britain teams urged the IOC to make a decision on the event’s fate. The heads of USA Swimming and USA Track and Field, possibly the two most important single teams in the Olympic movement, asked Team USA to start advocating for a postponement.

That’s not happening, at least not publicly. Team USA said Friday that it still hopes the games can be held as scheduled.  On Sunday, it said it was eager to explore alternatives with the IOC. “As diverse as our athletes are, so too are their perspectives on this issue, which adds to the complication.” said Team USA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland. “There are athletes out there for whom this feels like their only opportunity.”

For many athletes, it’s also the moment when they solidify the sponsorships and endorsements that enable them to train full-time. “I don’t have a salary, everything comes from sponsorship,” said Ysaora Thibus, a French fencer. “Most of the times contracts change right after the games. It’s a moment to solidify how you’re going to be for the next four years.”

Still, she said, she hoped the games will be postponed. She and her husband, American foil fencer Race Imboden, have been staying with their trainer in Los Angeles, and since their gym closed, they haven’t had access to their equipment. “It would be more responsible to postpone the Olympics,” she said. “We want to be examples and show what are the good things to do in a difficult moment, and we know sport isn’t the priority now. The more important thing is to be safe.”

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Larry Kudlow Claims Coronavirus ‘Contained’ In U.S. As CDC Warns Of Likely Spread

National Economic Director Larry Kudlow on Tuesday claimed the coronavirus is “contained” in the United States after public health officials warned earlier in the day that the virus will likely begin spreading throughout the country.

“We have contained this,” Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, said during an interview with CNBC. “I won’t say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.”

“This is a human tragedy,” Kudlow continued. “That’s the worst part of this. The business side and the economic side ― I don’t think it’s going to be an economic tragedy at all.”

Kudlow spoke after financial markets sharply declined for a second day as investors speculated how the virus, named COVID-19, might affect the global economy. 

His statement appeared at odds with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s assessment during a news conference earlier Tuesday, where officials warned of a potential pandemic. 

“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “It’s more of a question of when.”

Messonnier called on communities to prepare for potential outbreaks.

“The disruption of daily life might be severe,” she said.

The death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 2,700 worldwide as of Tuesday afternoon, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China. The virus is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

China has reported more than 77,000 confirmed cases.

At least 53 Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to the CDC’s website. At least 36 of those people were infected while onboard a cruise ship.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on Jan. 30.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Team USA Tells Athletes to Proceed as Planned for Tokyo Olympics

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The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee is telling its teams to train and prepare as planned for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, as it continues to monitor the coronavirus outbreak spreading rapidly through Asia.

Team USA, which plans to send 620 athletes and twice as many coaches and executives to Tokyo, last week told its individual sport bodies that it’s “been given no reason to deviate from any of our Tokyo Games planning and preparation.” The games are set for July 24 through Aug. 9, with the Paralympic Games a few weeks later.

The U.S. has the biggest and most successful Olympic delegation, and draws the most lucrative sponsorships, so its decisions are closely watched. It issued the guidance as the number of infections continues to rise, including a rapid outbreak in Japan to 144 confirmed cases, and the global business community continues to reel from the effects of the virus.

A number of global sporting events and Olympic qualifiers in Asia have already been canceled or relocated, causing many to wonder if the Tokyo games themselves, held just 700 miles from the Chinese mainland, might also be affected.

Cancellations Rare

Delaying, canceling or moving the games is almost unprecedented. Since the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1896, the games have only been canceled three times: once during World War I and twice during World War II. And while big global sporting events have been moved in the wake of an disease outbreak — the 2003 Women’s World Cup was relocated from China to the U.S. due to SARS — the Summer Olympics are a much, much bigger undertaking, with 11,090 athletes from more than 200 countries scheduled to descend on Tokyo.

“I want to make it clear that the Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee are not holding any discussions whatsoever about whether or not to hold the Tokyo Games,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Feb. 6.

Like the organizing committee and Team USA, some analysts and economists say they expect the coronavirus outbreak to be fully contained by the time the games roll around. “I don’t think as a main scenario, the situation will escalate to the point where it will impact the operation of the Olympics itself,” said Shuji Tonouchi, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

Tokyo has been preparing for the games for more than seven years, spending more than $26 billion to ready the city, according to some estimates. Much of the economic boost from the games has already been realized, both in infrastructure investment and in rising tourism since the country was announced as a host site.

Brand Risk

The bigger economic risk is to the Olympics brand. Sponsors and media companies pay the International Olympic Committee more than $5 billion every four years to attach themselves to the games; a cancellation, if it came to that, would require an epic financial unwinding for an organization already struggling to woo host cities.

Team USA said it’s in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security regarding travel policies and with the International Olympic Committee and the local Tokyo organizers regarding the games themselves.

Global concerns about the coronavirus have complicated the run-up to the games, which for most sports features qualifiers and tune-up competitions around the world. Weightlifting’s Asian Championships, for example, moved to Uzbekistan after the planned host, Kazakhstan, restricted travel to and from countries that neighbor China.

American weightlifters have upcoming qualifying competitions in Ohio, Romania and the Dominican Republic, and USA Weightlifting plans to attend each one, said Kevin Farley, the organization’s senior director of engagement. The team intends to ship a lot of its equipment — weights, training platforms, nutrition — to Japan in April, as originally planned, and will have personnel on the ground starting in July.

For now, the U.S. Olympic committee has suggested that its teams limit all nonessential travel to mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The committee said in its memo that it is reviewing the situation regularly. “We are prepared to take every precautionary measure necessary to keep Team USA athletes and staff safe should the situation change,” the committee said.

— With assistance by Isabel Reynolds

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Vince McMahon Could Be the Biggest Obstacle to WWE’s Rebound



Not long into a recent World Wrestling Entertainment extravaganza, Becky Lynch, the reigning women’s champion, was lying on her stomach inside a ring in Ontario, Calif., when the scowling Shayna Baszler removed her signature black mouth guard, bent down and appeared to sink her teeth into the back of Lynch’s neck. Lynch screeched while a comically large fountain of red liquid gushed everywhere. It was like watching Dracula strike oil.

Moments later, the audience watching at home on USA Network followed the cameras backstage as medics tried to persuade Lynch to leave the Toyota Arena in an ambulance.

“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” Lynch said. “It’s just a flesh wound.”

That also appears to be the attitude of WWE’s longtime chief executive officer, Vince McMahon, despite some deep cuts to the wrestling empire’s viewership. After flying high in 2019, the company’s stock is down by one-third this year. Ticket sales from live events are slumping. A new wrestling rival that airs on WarnerMedia’s TNT cable network, All Elite Wrestling, is poaching talent. WWE’s long-running plan to conquer such overseas markets as India and the Middle East appears to have stalled. And the company’s subscription streaming service, the WWE Network, lost roughly 160,000 subscribers, about a 10% decline, in the past year.

Dave Meltzer, publisher and editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, said that WWE has become a victim of its own TV success. WWE produces three live shows: Raw and NXT, which air on USA, and SmackDown, on Fox. That’s seven hours of weekly programming, a lucrative arrangement for WWE, but one that might be overtaxing WWE’s writer room—yes, the mayhem is scripted—and flooding the market.

“The product is decreasing in popularity, due to television oversaturation,” Meltzer says.

Investors are now watching for clues as to how McMahon will stop the bleeding. So far, the results have not been reassuring.

On Jan. 30, WWE announced it had dismissed co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, despite having no immediate plan to replace them. The move touched off another bout of teeth-gnashing on Wall Street—particularly among analysts who believe McMahon, 74, would benefit from more seasoned help running the company, not less.

During the company’s Feb. 6 quarterly earnings call, McMahon told analysts that, in spite of the diving share price, WWE is thriving. Thanks to the recently signed TV contracts with Fox and USA, the company’s revenue and profits are at all-time highs. The recent executive shakeup, McMahon said, was “execution-related,” not in any way an indictment of WWE’s recent business strategy or an admission that WWE might need to change direction.

McMahon didn’t sound like an executive ready to listen to the medics and seek help. No ambulance, thanks. Just a flesh wound.

Company executives didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Not everyone is convinced of a full recovery. Brandon Ross, an analyst with LightShed Partners, said in a recent report that “WWE’s creative process required significant overhaul” and that to do so might require McMahon to loosen “his creative grip” on WWE. Ross urged McMahon to consider relinquishing creative control to Paul “Triple H” Levesque, a former WWE wrestler who’s married to McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie. In recent years, Levesque has overhauled WWE’s talent-development program.

From 2018: WWE Is Laying the Smackdown on the World

The company could certainly benefit from the ascent of a fresh megastar. Every memorable WWE epoch has been defined by a single wrestler, from Hulk Hogan to the Undertaker to Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson to John Cena. The Cena Era appears to be over, as the brawler with the big biceps has gone Hollywood. He hasn’t appeared in a WWE match since early 2019, and, so far, WWE’s attempts to promote a replacement have fizzled.

Another Wall Street worry, according to LightShed’s Ross, is the XFL, the pro football league McMahon controls through closely held Alpha Entertainment. The idea of taking on the National Football League has proven over the years to be a great way to burn money—as McMahon knows all too well. In 2001, he teamed with NBC to launch the original XFL, in part using proceeds from his wrestling business. The original XFL lost tens of millions of dollars and folded after one season. In early February 2020, the rebooted XFL 2.0 made its debut with TV viewership that rivaled the Alliance of American Football, which was shuttered last spring in the middle of its inaugural season.

McMahon has said that the XFL is separate from WWE and will remain so. But questions persist about how much of McMahon’s attention will be devoted to football. LightShed’s Ross said that for WWE to get back on track, it must fix its storylines—a prospect that could be more difficult if McMahon is splitting his time between the ring and the gridiron.

While McMahon has shown little inclination to cede control, he’s signaled that he might be willing to alter WWE’s distribution strategy to take advantage of the explosion in streaming video. Six years ago, the company made a risky move, shifting high-priced pay-per-view events such as WrestleMania from cable and satellite TV to its subscription streaming-video service, the WWE Network, which costs fans $9.99 a month for full access.

Now, with the WWE Network losing subscribers, and the streaming world increasingly crowded with new services willing to pay for attention-grabbing entertainment franchises, McMahon appears to be reconsidering the setup. On the recent earnings call, he mentioned the possibility of cutting a deal with one of the “majors” in streaming. He didn’t elaborate.

Selling off a package of big WWE events to a streaming service would make a certain kind of logic in the McMahon universe. Even at a time when the market appears oversaturated with televised wrestling, the solution remains the same as it always was: more wrestling.

“Vince McMahon may encapsulate a thuggish old-school CEO, but professional wrestling is coursing through his veins, and WWE offers an investment opportunity with significant upside,” says Mike Hickey, a Benchmark Co. analyst. “There’s no drama like wrestling.”

Back at the Toyota Arena, champion Becky Lynch, her hands and shoulders generously smeared in blood sauce, finally agreed to accept medical attention. But in the spirit of her boss McMahon, Lynch would be damned if she was going to let somebody else take the wheel. Lynch pushed aside the medics, dragged a guy out of the driver’s seat, and got in. “I’m driving this thing,” she said, ignoring the protestations of the crowd of onlookers. Off she went, with the lights flashing and the sirens screaming.

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