2,569 new deaths in 24 hours bring US coronavirus toll past 28,000

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A New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) wearing personal protective equipment assist a woman who was having difficulty breathing during ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) in New York on April 15, 2020. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
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Nurses and medical workers react as police officers and pedestrians cheer them outside Lenox Hill Hospital on April 15, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Updated 16 April 2020

2,569 new deaths in 24 hours bring US coronavirus toll past 28,000

  • Number of cases in the US has reached 636,35 — Johns Hopkins
  • Trump criticized for putting name on COVID-19 stimulus checks

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday posted nearly 2,600 additional deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, a new record and the heaviest daily toll of any country, Johns Hopkins University said.
A running tally from Johns Hopkins showed 2,569 victims at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time (0030 GMT Thursday), compared with the same time the previous evening, bringing the total number of US deaths to 28,326 — higher than any other nation.
The figures came after President Donald Trump earlier in the evening said “the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases,” and he will announce Thursday the first plans for lifting coronavirus lockdowns.
According to Johns Hopkins, the number of cases in the US reached 636,350.

Trump blasted for credit-grabbing

Meanwhile, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Donald Trump as “shameful” Wednesday after it emerged that the president’s name will be printed on stimulus checks, potentially delaying payments to Americans struggling during the coronavirus crisis.
The Treasury Department confirmed to AFP that Trump’s name will be printed on paper checks of up to $1,200 that soon will be rushed out to tens of millions of people.
The unprecedented Treasury order could delay the check process by a few days, The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, citing senior Internal Revenue Service officials.
“Delaying direct payments to vulnerable families just to print his name on the check is another shameful example of President Trump’s catastrophic failure to treat this crisis with the urgency it demands,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Other Democratic lawmakers and members of the public joined in the criticism online, some attacking Trump for politicizing an election-year crisis.
The president downplayed the controversy when asked about it during his evening press conference.
“Well I don’t know too much about it but I understand my name is there,” Trump said.
“I don’t know where they’re going, how they’re going. I do understand it’s not delaying anything and I’m satisfied with that.”
He added: “I don’t imagine it’s a big deal. I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big fat beautiful check and my name is on it.”
The payments stem from a $2 trillion emergency rescue package crafted by congressional Democrats, Republicans and the White House that Trump signed into law in late March.
The massive bill, the largest of its kind ever passed by Congress, was aimed at delivering urgently needed relief to millions of American families and businesses devastated by the deadly pandemic.
Trump himself had said on April 3 that he was not interested in signing the checks.
“It’s a Trump administration initiative, but do I want to sign them? No,” he said during a daily coronavirus task force briefing.
The checks feature Trump’s name, not his signature.


NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

Updated 23 October 2020

NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

  • “This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers
  • Turkey has deployed a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters

BRUSSELS: Turkey and Greece have agreed to cancel rival military exercises that were to have been held next week on their respective national days, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.
The neighbors, while NATO members, are at loggerheads over energy drilling and maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the alliance has set up a hotline to head off accidental clashes.
“This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers, including Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar.
“These are steps in the right direction, and it helps to reduce the risks for instance and accidents.”
Greece had been expected to conduct exercises on Wednesday October 28, its Oxi Day holiday, and Turkey on Thursday, celebrated there as Republic Day.
Turkey has deployed the Oruc Reis, a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters off the island of Kastellorizo, and Greek vessels are nearby.
Addressing a news conference after two days of talks on a variety of topics, Stoltenberg confirmed he had raised the situation with the Greek and Turkish ministers.
“I will say that we had a good and constructive talks and allies expressed a strong support for the NATO de-confliction mechanism,” Stoltenberg said.
“I welcome now the fact that we have been able to see some concrete steps in that direction with the cancelation of the two exercises.”
French Defense Minister Florence Parly also hailed the decisions to cancel the military exercises, stressing the need to “respect international law and restore stability in the region.”
Stoltenberg also welcomed Germany’s diplomatic mediation in the underlying dispute.
On Thursday, he had warned that — while NATO could help keep the rival militaries apart — it would be down to Ankara and Athens to open a dialogue to resolve their long-standing differences.