WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to begin to ease nationwide guidelines meant to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to the nation's governors, Trump said the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.” States and municipalities would still retain authority to set whatever restrictions deem necessary.
He has been trying for days to determine how to contain the economic fallout of the guidelines issued by his administration as well as local leaders to slow the tide of infections.
“Every day that we stay out, it gets harder to bring it back very quickly,” Trump said.
Canada opposes US troop idea
Canada has told the Trump administration that a proposal to put troops at the U.S.-Canada border amid the pandemic is entirely unnecessary and would damage relations between the two longtime allies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has been in discussions with the White House about convincing the U.S. not to do it.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” he said.
2nd try to close LA gun shops
For the second time this week, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has ordered gun shops to close, a move that challenges the county legal counsel's finding that the stores are essential businesses that should remain open during the coronavirus crisis.
Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous with 10 million residents, enacted a stay-at-home order last week that required all nonessential businesses to close to slow the spread of the virus. Tuesday, Villanueva ordered the shops closed as panic-buying that produced long lines at the shops was worrisome from a public safety standpoint.
Soon after, the county counsel and the health department said the shops are among those considered essential under the county's stay-at-home order that closed many businesses and urged all residents to stay home as much as possible. In issuing his second closure order Thursday, Villanueva cited the governor's executive order on statewide closures as stipulating gun stores are not essential. However, the order does not explicitly mention those businesses.
South Africa set for shutdown
South Africa's president appeared in full military uniform for the first time since the end of apartheid and told troops to be a “force of kindness” as a three-week lockdown begins at midnight and they ensure that 57 million people stay home. The mission is the “most important in the history of our country” as coronavirus cases near 1,000, the highest in Africa.
“Our people are terrified right now, and we should not do anything to make their situation worse,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told police earlier Thursday. “Psychologically they are already scared that they could get the virus, lose income, lose jobs, get sick without medication.”
Anxiety has been especially high for low-income South Africans squeezed into townships, sometimes with an extended family sharing a shack of corrugated metal and little income. Fears of an increase in domestic violence and rape have been expressed by civil society groups. And economic pain is widespread, with a recession and unemployment at 29%. South Africa remains one of the world's most unequal countries a quarter-century after the racist apartheid system ended in 1994.
$4.8 trillion from G20 to fight virus
The head of the United Nations told leaders of the world's 20 major industrialized nations during an emergency virtual summit Thursday that “we are at war with a virus – and not winning it” despite dramatic measures by countries to seal their borders, shutter businesses and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world's population.
The Group of 20 nations, criticized for not taking cohesive action against the virus or its economic impact, vowed to work together and said they are collectively injecting more than $4.8 trillion into the global economy to counteract the social and financial impacts of the pandemic.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged G20 leaders to adopt a war-time plan to tackle the pandemic. “It took the world three months to reach 100,000 confirmed cases of infection,” he said. “The next 100,000 happened in just 12 days. The third took four days. The fourth, just one and a half.”
Lotteries feeling pandemic's pinch
Hoping to escape all the coronavirus-caused economic uncertainty by winning a giant lottery jackpot? Think again. Those jackpots are going to shrink as the pandemic tamps down lottery sales.
The group that oversees the Powerball game announced Wednesday night that it would cut minimum jackpots in half, from $40 million to $20 million, after there is a winner of the current big prize. The jackpot also could grow more slowly, with minimum increases of $2 million instead of the normal $10 million after each twice-weekly drawing.