Stay-Home Order Covering Houston Spurs Challenge by 3 Pastors

Three pastors are challenging the constitutionality of a stay-at-home order issued by Texas officials in the county that includes Houston, saying the mandate improperly tramples on individual freedoms by closing churches and failing to designate gun stores “essential” businesses.

The pastors — along with a conservative activist — filed a request with the Texas Supreme Court Monday in one of the first challenges to stay-at-home orders in the country.

More than 250 million people in at least 30 states are being urged to stay home to curtail the spread of the pandemic. Texas Governor Greg Abbott hasn’t issued a state-wide order but local restrictions have been put in place in Dallas and Houston.

In general, state and local governments have broad powers to place such restrictions in place on non-essential businesses and gatherings.

“This order strikes at First Amendment liberties all citizens enjoy,” said Jared Woodfill, a lawyer for the pastors. “People are using this pandemic as justification to infringe on personal liberties people fought and died for.”

A spokesperson for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who issued the stay-home order earlier this month, said the measure was legally proper.

19,408 in U.S.Most new cases today

-22% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​033 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

“Public health and science must drive our response, and the science is clear: If we fail to take adequate steps to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, people will die,” said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Hidalgo.

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Americans Are Split On How U.S. Coronavirus Response Compares To That In Other Nations

Americans are split on how the U.S. is handling the coronavirus outbreak compared with other countries, a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last week finds.

Thirty-one percent say the U.S. is doing better than most other countries, 29% that it’s doing about the same and 28% that it’s doing worse. An additional 12% aren’t sure.

Nearly half say the U.S. has been more successful than Italy, which has been ravaged by the virus. Just 20% think the U.S. has done better than South Korea, which implemented an early program of widespread testing

Opinions on how the U.S. response compares with others’ is sharply polarized, with 62% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats saying the country has done better than most other nations.

Americans are about evenly split on how the U.S. should envision its role internationally, the poll finds, with 42% saying it’s best for the future of the country to be active in world affairs and 41% that the U.S. should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems at home. Those numbers are within the range of other polling taken in the past three years and suggest that the country’s appetite for isolationism remains lower than it was in 2016.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 23-25 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.


  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • When will life return to normal? Europe has some answers.
  • Digestive issues might be an early sign of coronavirus
  • How to file for unemployment if you’ve been laid off
  • Avoiding going to the store? Here’s how to order groceries online.
  • What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19
  • How often do we really need to wash our faces?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.

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Trump’s Easter Restart Undone by His Experts’ Dire Virus Models

As President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response team gathered at the White House Sunday to discuss re-opening the U.S. for business by Easter, his top health experts painted a troubling picture of what lay ahead.

Deborah Birx, an immunologist picked by Vice President Mike Pence to weigh the ailment’s impact, cautioned that the U.S. outbreak was still two weeks away from its peak. Her reading of the data also led her to an even more worrisome conclusion: that the nation was likely tens of thousands of hospital beds short of the anticipated need.

The conversation moved into the Oval Office, where aides presented Trump with their harrowing findings, according to two people familiar with the matter. Birx and her longtime mentor, Anthony Fauci, told the president that the virus could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans and infect millions.

The fresh information — and unanimity among Trump’s top public-health advisers — set the stage for a remarkable reversal on Sunday by the president, who had said a week earlier that he wanted to relax by Easter, April 12, the strictest social-distancing rules that were smothering the U.S. economy.

Spike in Hospitalizations

Birx’s data, which had converged by the weekend with projections by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, showed Trump’s approach could be disastrous. Cities such as Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Miami could soon see a spike in hospitalizations mirroring the situation in New York. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told the president that the country needed more time to mitigate the spread and test the ill.

By Monday morning, Trump and Birx were pointing to the IHME data in a call with most of the nation’s governors, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing internal White House deliberations.

Trump weighed messages from top Senate Republicans, who spent days privately warning the president and other White House officials that re-opening the country could cause more deaths and trigger a political backlash, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Even aides who were most vocal about the economic impact of a prolonged shutdown, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, agreed that the country was not yet ready to reopen.

A consensus emerged. There was no way the country could reopen by the president’s Easter target without massive casualties.

‘Showed Him the Data’

“We showed him the data. He looked at the data. He got it right away,” Fauci said during an interview with CNN on Monday. “It was a pretty clear picture. Dr. Debbie Birx and I went into the Oval Office and leaned over the desk and said, ‘Here are the data. Take a look.’ He just shook his head and said, ‘I guess we got to do it.’”

A few hours later, Trump addressed reporters in the Rose Garden and conceded that his idea of an Easter resurrection wouldn’t come to fruition. His proposal, he said, had been “aspirational,” and he would now extend social distancing measures until at least April 30. The nation, he said, likely wouldn’t fully return to normal until the beginning June.

“When you hear these kind of numbers and you hear the potential travesty, we don’t want to do anything where — you know, we don’t want to have a spike up,” Trump said Sunday, adding that “we know much more now that we knew two, three weeks ago.”

Reversal Highlights Danger

Trump’s reversal from just days earlier — when the president openly fretted that the cure proposed by his health officials might be worse than the disease — amplified the serious danger coronavirus continues to pose to Americans, a risk that became glaringly obvious even to a president determined to get the economy on its feet before he faces re-election in November.

Trump’s approval ratings rose as he positioned himself as a war-time president fighting the virus, an advantage Capitol Hill Republicans privately warned he could lose if he were to relax the restrictions too soon.

“I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5000 cases very quickly,” Birx told NBC News in an interview Monday.

Trump’s advisers had discussed extending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on social distancing at least three times since late last week, including twice on Sunday.

While the president’s team said that data warning of a catastrophic loss of life was the central motivator behind the president’s decision, the impact of the virus on some of the places and people closest to the president also seemed to sway his decision.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, said last week that the president should only go ahead with the Easter target date if it was “blessed” by medical professionals like Fauci and Birx.

Disturbing Images

Trump said Sunday that he had been shaken by images from Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. A 20-minute drive from Trump’s childhood home, Elmhurst has become the embodiment of a health system struggling under a surge of coronavirus patients. The signs of crisis are evident outside the hospital, where there are triage tents and a refrigerated truck storing bodies.

“This is in my community in Queens, New York. I have seen things that I’ve never seen before,” Trump said Sunday. “I mean I’ve seen them, but I’ve seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country.”

The president has also been struck by the use of the Javits Center — a building central to his legacy as a New York real estate developer — as a makeshift hospital. Trump earned a hefty commission when the former railroad yard was picked as the site for the convention center, but has long complained that officials spurned his offer to build the facility at a guaranteed price if it were to be named after his family.

Now the White House is studying death rates in New York closely to determine whether the outbreak has peaked in the state.

The president says his friends have been impacted by the virus ravaging his home town.

Ill Friends

“I have friends in the hospital,” Trump told Fox News on Monday. “I have one of them who’s — he’s got two problems. He’s heavy and he’s not so young. OK, he’s not exactly a youngster, and he’s in a coma. He’s in a coma. And so, you know, this is tough stuff.”

And after an initial flood of calls from investors concerned about the impact of the virus on Wall Street and allies who warned him that his restrictions were too draconian, Trump has begun hearing from others who say Americans are adjusting to life in quarantine.

Trump has seen his teenage son, Barron, taking online courses as an alternative to going school. And White House officials have provided the president with letters from Americans who say they’re appreciative of a shutdown that has forced them to spend time with loved ones.

“We’re actually getting a lot of letters: ‘We found our family again, we found what life should be,’” Trump said.

— With assistance by Josh Wingrove

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Trump Credits Himself For Cuomo’s Approval Ratings: ‘We’ve Helped Make Him Successful’

President Donald Trump took credit for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s high poll numbers on Monday, saying “one of the reasons why he’s successful is we’ve helped make him successful.”

“You say he’s gotten good marks but I’ve gotten great marks on what we’ve done,” Trump boasted on Fox & Friends when asked about Cuomo’s rising popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic that has hit New York especially hard.

The results of a Siena College poll released Monday gave the Democratic governor a 78% approval rating among New Yorkers, his highest level since early 2013. Among the Republicans polled, Cuomo earned a 70% approval rating. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) also scored a 61% approval rating among New Yorkers for his response to the crisis.

In contrast, Trump’s approval rating among New Yorkers was just 41%.

“One of the reasons why his numbers are so high in handling it is because of the federal government,” Trump said during his Fox News appearance. “Because we give him ships, and we give him ventilators, and we give him all of the things that we’re giving him.”

A U.S. Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds docked in New York Harbor on Monday to help relieve New York medical facilities in treating patients with ailments other than COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Trump said “wouldn’t mind running against” Cuomo in this year’s presidential race,  saying he thought the governor would be a stronger contender than former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

But Trump expressed confidence he would beat Cuomo, saying, “Every poll says I’m going to win,” he said.

Cuomo, despite easily winning a third term in 2018, had been seeing his popularity flagging. A Siena College poll taken in early February showed his favorability rating at 43% ― his lowest mark in office. 

But as governor’s performance and prominence in dealing with the coronavirus crisis has spurred the turnaround in public opinion, his actions have also sparked talk of a presidential bid by him, but he has consistently said that will not happen ― a stance he reiterated at his Monday briefing.

He also declined to in any back-and-forth with Trump about a White House race, saying, “As far as the president’s comment about having a political contest with me, I am not engaging the president in politics. My only goal is to engage the president in partnership. This is no time for politics,”

The governor and the president have generally praised their communication amid the health crisis, though they have also publically sparred at times, particularly over Cuomo’s request for thousands of ventilators for his state.

As of Monday, over 59,000 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed across New York. That’s four times more than the next highest amount reported ― roughly 13,400 ― in New Jersey.

Trump, when asked about Cuomo’s ventilator request last week, brushed it off as unnecessary.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday. “You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying can we order 30,000 ventilators?”

Cuomo, 62, is the son of another three-term New York governor, Mario Cuomo (D). 

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • When will life return to normal? Europe has some answers.
  • Digestive issues might be an early sign of coronavirus
  • How to file for unemployment if you’ve been laid off
  • Avoiding going to the store? Here’s how to order groceries online.
  • What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19
  • How often do we really need to wash our faces?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
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National minimum wage increase: When does the minimum wage go up in 2020?

Earlier this month Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the National Minimum Wage is going to increase. The change will come in with the new financial year – but when is that?

When does the Minimum Wage go up in 2020?

Millions of Brits earn the minimum wage and are about to get a pay rise of up to £930 a year from April 1.

The increase is the biggest since the Minimum Wage came into force in 1999.

READ MORE- Minimum Wage & National Living Wage to rise amid coronavirus concerns

Who is the Minimum Wage increasing for?

The minimum wage is increasing for anyone who is currently on it or will be on it in 2020.

The rate employees will receive depends on their age and whether or not they are an apprentice.

What is the new Minimum Wage?

The rate for over 25s will go up from £8.21 to £8.72 an hour.

The rate for 21 to 24-year-olds is increasing by 6.5 percent from £7.70 to £8.20 an hour.

Those aged between 18 and 20 will have a pay rise from £6.15 to £6.45.

Under 18s will enjoy a boost from £4.35 to £4.55.

Apprentices will be paid an extra 25 pence an hour, from £3.90 to £4.15.

Minimum Wage & National Living Wage changes: Will you get pay rise? [INFORMER]
Benefit changes 2020: What are the benefit changes for April 2020? [INSIGHT]
Universal Credit payments April 2020: How much is Universal Credit … [INFORMER]


  • National Living Wage to rise to over £10.50 an hour – Rishi Sunak

What is the difference between the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage?

The National Living Wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and reviewed annually.

It is the recommended hourly pay employees should be paid and reflects the cost of living.

That’s why it will be higher than the Minimum Wage.

The Minimum Wage is set by the Government, and all employers must stick to it.

The Minimum Wage is non-negotiable.

The National Living Wage isn’t enforceable by law, but most businesses adopt it anyway.

What is the National Living Wage?

At present, the National Living Wage for those over 25 is projected at £8.21.

This is more than 50p extra an hour than the Minimum Wage for the same age group. say the Real Living Wage is actually £9.30 across the UK, and £10.75 in London.

At the 2020 Budget, Mr Sunak said the National Living Wage is to rise.

He said: “By 2024 the National Living Wage will reach two-thirds of median earnings. On current forecasts, that means a Living Wage of over £10.50 an hour.

“We promised to end low pay, we’re getting it done.”

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Iowa, Ohio Sued Over Abortion Bans During Coronavirus Crisis

State officials in Iowa and Ohio were hit with lawsuits on Monday over their decisions to ban abortion during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Both states recently deemed abortion a nonessential surgical procedure that must be deferred or canceled in order to preserve medical supplies for the pandemic.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and Ohio are asking district courts to immediately restore abortion access, arguing that it’s an essential, time-sensitive procedure that has been improperly categorized as elective.

A growing number of states largely governed by Republicans are using the coronavirus outbreak to crack down on abortion. In addition to Ohio and Iowa, Texas and Mississippi have ordered health care facilities to stop providing abortions.

“Patients presenting for time-sensitive care, including abortion care, need timely access to treatment, even during this pandemic,” said Katherine Ragsdale, an Episcopal priest and president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, in a statement. “Women deserve better than a craven exploitation of a health care crisis in furtherance of an anti-abortion agenda.” 

Leading medical experts, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology have urged state leaders to classify abortion as a time-sensitive, essential medical procedure that cannot be delayed.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) halted elective, non-essential surgeries, including surgical abortions, in an emergency proclamation issued last week. The lawsuit against Reynolds, filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa, asks the court to block the proclamation as it applies to abortions.

In Ohio, Attorney General Dave Yost issued letters to at least three abortion clinics on March 20, ordering them to stop providing abortion care. The lawsuit against Yost, filed by abortion providers, the national and state branches of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, calls for a temporary restraining order to stop the restriction from taking effect.

“Plaintiffs’ patients would be denied their right to access safe and legal previability abortion, in violation of nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent that categorically prohibits states from banning abortion before viability, and is, therefore, unconstitutional,” the lawsuit says. “Some of these patients will be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will and at risk to their health amidst a health system overburdened by responding to COVID-19,” the disease caused by the coronavirus.

An emergency lawsuit was filed in federal court last week to overturn a similar ban in Texas, where women are currently unable to access abortions at all. HuffPost spoke to one patient who was forced to drive 24 hours and cross multiple states to receive an abortion. 

“A global pandemic is not an excuse to attack essential, time-sensitive medical procedures like abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, in a statement. “Anti-abortion politicians have gone too far.”

Are you trying to get an abortion during the coronavirus outbreak? We want to hear from you. Email reporter Melissa Jeltsen at [email protected]

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Houseparty users claim app 'has been HACKED' – but creators deny breach

RUMOURS that popular video-calling app Houseparty has been "hacked" are spreading like wildfire online – but its creators deny a breach.

The chat app has quickly become a viral hit in recent weeks, but terrified users are now deleting the app over fears Houseparty has been compromised.

As the world goes into lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis, internet users have flocked to Houseparty.

The hit app lets friends and family make video calls, play games and hang out in a virtual "house party".

However, large numbers of users on Twitter are reporting that they've had Spotify, PayPal and bank accounts hacked after downloading the app.

But the app's owner Epic Games – the company behind popular games Fortnite and Gears of War – deny that a breach has taken place.

"We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts," an Epic Games spokesperson told The Sun.

"As a general rule, we suggest all users choose strong passwords when creating online accounts on any platform.

"Use a unique password for each account, and use a password generator or password manager to keep track of passwords, rather than using passwords that are short and simple."

Users are reporting major issues after downloading the chat app, however.

One user wrote: "BOYCOTT HOUSEPARTY, just found out that’s how my Spotify was hacked and how many others are being hacked on various things, disconnect snapchat and delete account."

Another said: "Everyone who has the house party app I advise you to delete your account and delete the app as this is seemingly how fraud is happening and people’s emails etc are getting hacked.

"I know a lot of people will have this app."

And one wrote: "DELETE HOUSEPARTY! My PayPal which was with the same email address has been hacked and money taken from my bank!

They added: "It's happened to other people too."

So has House Party been hacked?

There are several explanations for this phenomenon that don't involve a mass-hack of Houseparty users.

For a start, it could be plain old coincidence: cyber-crime is on the rise currently as hackers prey on confusion and interest in the coronavirus crisis.

It's possible that many of these Houseparty users may have simply been caught out by another scam.

There may be an element of social media hysteria at play here too.

Many of the users are reporting anecdotal issues – and citing "friends of friends" – which are telltale signs of a hoax.

Simply put, you might not need to rush out and delete House Party right now.

"There is a rising wave of cybercrime activity directly linked to the global uptake of group social media platforms now that everyone is in isolation," said Brian Higgins, a cyber-security specialist from Comparitech, speaking to The Sun.

"I’d definitely recommend deleting any apps you think may be causing you and your contacts harm.

"However, in this case I’d give Houseparty a chance to investigate and explain what’s happening.

"They're clearly providing a vital service to people’s mental health and wellbeing.

"By all means do whatever you think is necessary to stay safe online while the COVID-19 pandemic plays, out but it’s always best to make informed decisions.

"There are any number of reasons why the online activity highlighted on Twitter could be happening.

"I’d follow Epic Games on Twitter for a while and wait until it’s safe to use their app again."

Houseparty – what is it?

Here's what you need to know…

  • Houseparty is a popular social networking app
  • It offers group video-calling through mobile and desktop apps
  • Users receive notifications when friends are online and available to talk
  • The app was launched by Life On Air in 2016, after $12million in venture capital was raised
  • The company partnered with Ellen DeGeneres's app Heads Up! in early 2019
  • And in June 2019, Houseparty was acquired by Epic Games for an undisclosed sum
  • Epic Games is a major US company that owns popular games Fortnite and Gears of War
  • Houseparty has seen a surge in popularity during the coronavirus lockdown

But not everyone is convinced that this is a coincidence.

"I am afraid I don't believe in coincidences," said cyber-expert Peter Draper, of Gurucul, speaking to The Sun.

"Especially at the moment with bad actors trying every single angle to exploit the current situation and people's need to communicate with friends and family during lockdown.

"It is highly likely that Houseparty has been compromised in some way, whether that is the core infrastructure, the software download or just a hook into the data."

There is currently no evidence that Houseparty has been hacked.

In other news, find out how to sign up to the official WhatsApp coronavirus chatbot.

Former Nasa scientist Mark Roberts used "glow powder" to show how quickly germs spread.

And a hilarious prankster has revealed a cheeky way to skip out on dull virtual meetings while working from home.

Have you experienced any issues using House Party recently? If so, let us know in the comments!

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Amazon workers to walk out over lack of protective gear amid coronavirus

More than 100 Amazon workers planned to walk out of a New York facility on Monday, demanding increased protective gear and hazard pay as they work through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force their hand,” Chris Smalls, lead organizer of the Staten Island strike, told CNBC. He added that workers “will not return until the building gets sanitized”.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to Smalls, the employees are set to walk out at 12.30pm ET.

Delivery workers for Instacart, a national delivery service, also planned to strike on Monday, demanding disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and better pay to offset risks faced in bringing groceries to Americans confined to their homes.

While much of the US navigates public gathering restrictions and mandatory stay-at-home orders, and as confirmed cases and deaths from the respiratory illness rise, Small alleged that Amazon employees have been exposed to multiple people who have been found to have Covid-19.

Employees at the New York facility accuse Amazon of poor communication about worker health. Small himself is in quarantine after coming in contact with an infected co-worker.

The management assistant alleges only “a select few of the general managers” and a handful of colleagues in close proximity were informed about the diagnosis. Another anonymous worker told CNBC gloves were being rationed.

Amazon confirmed an associate, who reported for work on 11 March, has since been diagnosed with Covid-19. The associate received medical care and is in quarantine, the company said.

“We are following all guidelines from local health officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site,” a spokeswoman told CNBC.

The company shot back at Small’s accusations, claiming he was “alleging many misleading things” while at home on quarantine and receiving full pay.

Amazon insisted it had “taken extreme measures” for safety, including deep cleaning and procuring safety supplies. The spokeswoman added the company permits unlimited unpaid leave for employees who feel uncomfortable working during the outbreak.

Amazon has had to balance a spike in demand for online deliveries with growing risks to its workers. Research indicates the coronavirus can survive on items like cardboard for 24 hours, and on plastic for up to three days.

The company instituted a 3ft distancing policy and distributed hand sanitizer throughout its facilities. Still, workers had already tested positive for the coronavirus at 11 warehouses. One warehouse in Kentucky was forced to close temporarily.

With Amazon employing nearly 800,000 people, some workers claim the measures don’t go far enough. Warehouses are still sometimes packed with thousands of employees confined to small spaces.

New York state has the most confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US. More than 60,000 cases have been confirmed across the state, resulting in more more than 1,000 deaths.

On Sunday, Instacart announced concessions to its delivery workers including new health and safety supplies and automatic tipping.

In a Medium post, Instacart workers and the Gig Workers Collective said the company’s response was “insulting for a number of reasons”.

“We are heartened by the outpouring of support we’ve received from Instacart customers, politicians, activists and everyday folks worried that they could be exposed to the virus due to Instacart’s craven profit-seeking,” the workers wrote.

“It goes to show that corporate greed is an issue that impacts us all, whether one is a shopper directly being affected, or not.”

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U.S. Shipped Tons Of COVID-19 Supplies To China As Trump Dismissed Threat Here

The U.S. State Department shipped 17.8 million tons of donated coronavirus medical supplies to China seven weeks ago, when health experts and some American lawmakers were already seeking federal action to prepare the country for the disease.

The massive shipment to China included medical masks, gowns and respirators, now in desperately short supply across America. The supplies were contributed by American companies and nonprofits, according to a U.S. Agency for International Development official.

The State Department touted its aid to China in a press release Feb. 7, three weeks after the first COVID-19 case emerged in Washington state. The statement said the agency was prepared to spend $100 million on the fight against the disease in China and other foreign countries. That was the same day the World Health Organization sounded an alert that such supplies were in critically short supply around the globe. 

President Donald Trump predicted that day in a tweet that China would be “successful” in vanquishing the illness, “especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker and then gone.”

Later that month, Trump compared COVID-19 to his impeachment and claimed it was Democrats’ “new hoax” to make him look bad. The previous month he boasted at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that it was “totally under control” in the U.S.

A desperate U.S. airlifted 80 tons of medical supplies from China to America on Sunday. Another 21 flights are planned, The New York Times reported.

The plane delivered 130,000 N95 masks, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 10 million gloves, and thousands of thermometers for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The gear is a small contribution to what’s needed.

State Department officials, responding to a question at a news briefing last week asking whether the U.S. now regrets sending the supplies to China, pointed out that the shipment came from “private donors,” not the government. 

Even before the supplies were sent to China, U.S. lawmakers were calling on the Trump administration to make preparations to deal with the spreading disease in America, noted Mother Jones, which was the first to report the aid to China.

Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and other lawmakers offered to allocate emergency funding for early health measures and research to address coronavirus in the U.S., but the offer was rejected by the White House. Murphy’s observation that such measures were needed immediately turned out to be prophetic.

Ten days ago, Trump snapped at governors pleading for supplies: “The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping,” he said. “We’re not a shipping clerk.”

The Trump administration has since begun pleading with the international community for supply donations, including N95 masks, gloves, respirators and hand sanitizer.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now top 145,000 cases, with 2,500  deaths.

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Trump rejects New York’s desperate plea for ventilators
  • What you need to know about at-home coronavirus test kits
  • How to file for unemployment if you’ve been laid off
  • Avoiding going to the store? Here’s how to order groceries online.
  • What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19
  • How to get the most out of the weekend despite coronavirus
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.

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Trump Walks Back Remarks on Reopening U.S. by Easter, Extends Social Distancing Guidelines to April 30

President Donald Trump has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30 to “slow the spread” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. I will say it again. The peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks,” he said during Sunday’s press briefing.

“Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” Trump, 73, said.

The president had previously expressed a desire to reopen the country by Easter. However, he told reporters on Sunday, “it was just an aspiration,” adding that he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.

Also during the briefing, PBS News Hour‘s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about his recent comment regarding filling federal orders for medical equipment. “Be nice. Don’t be threatening,” he said in response to Alcindor, who accurately recited the president’s quotes from a recent Sean Hannity interview about New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s need for more ventilators to aid victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours prior, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. could see up to 200,000 deaths due to coronavirus and millions of infections.

In light of Trump’s remarks, his administration’s health officials said last week that there needs to be “flexibility” with that target date because they are not certain it’s safe for any part of America to return to business as usual.

“What we don’t have right now that we really do need is we need to know what’s going on in those areas of the country where there isn’t an obvious outbreak,” Fauci told reporters last Tuesday.

In Trump’s appearance on both the network’s coronavirus virtual town hall and elsewhere last week, he openly waffled between what he felt was best for the economy — parts of which have ground to a halt, stranding more than a million workers and undercutting an argument Trump sees as key to his re-election — and what was best for the health of the nation.

As of March 29, there are now at least 123,617 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., the most worldwide.

At least 2,133 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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