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covid-19

DOJ Wants to Suspend Constitutional Rights for Coronavirus Emergency – Rolling Stone

The Trump Department of Justice has asked Congress to craft legislation allowing chief judges to indefinitely hold people without trial and suspend other constitutionally-protected rights during coronavirus and other emergencies, according to a report by Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan.

While the asks from the Department of Justice will likely not come to fruition with a Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, they demonstrate how much this White House has a frightening disregard for rights enumerated in the Constitution.

The DOJ has requested Congress allow any chief judge of a district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation,” according to draft language obtained by Politico. This would be applicable to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil processes and proceedings.” They justify this by saying currently judges can pause judicial proceedings in an emergency but that new legislation would allow them to apply it “in a consistent manner.”

But the Constitution grants citizens habeas corpus which gives arrestees the right to appear in front of a judge and ask to be released before trial. Enacting legislation like the DOJ wants would essentially suspend habeas corpus indefinitely until the emergency ended. Further, DOJ asked Congress to suspend the statute of limitations on criminal investigations and civil proceedings during the emergency until a year after it ended.

Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told Politico the measure was “terrifying,” saying, “Not only would it be a violation of [habeas corpus], but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest.’ So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

“That is something that should not happen in a democracy,” he added.

DOJ also asked Congress to amend the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to have defendants appear at a hearing via videoconference instead of in-person with the defendant’s consent, although in a draft obtained by Politico, the sections about requiring consent were crossed out. But it’s not just Americans’ rights the DOJ wants to violate. They also asked Congress to pass a law saying that immigrants who test positive for COVID-19 cannot qualify as asylum seekers.

As coronavirus spreads through the country, activists are calling on politicians in office to release prisoners and immigrants held in detention centers, both of which can be a hotbed of virus activity with so many people in close quarters and limited or non-existent supplies of soap, sanitizer, and protective equipment. Some states have already begun to do so. But with this, the Trump administration is taking steps to hold more people in prisons for an undetermined amount of time — showing their priority is not saving lives but giving themselves more power.

This content was originally published here.

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covid-19

Millions of asthma patients should cut down on socialising for weeks to avoid serious coronavirus | Daily Mail Online

Millions of asthma patients and any Britons who get the flu jab on the NHS should cut down on socialising to avoid serious illness caused by the coronavirus, a top doctor has warned. 

The NHS deems adults with long term conditions, including respiratory diseases, necessary to receive a free flu jab every winter.

Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said the advice to social distance for those high risk groups was ‘very strong’. 

It follows the Governments advice that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures announced yesterday.

Britons demanded more clarity about who exactly fall into that bracket, considering health conditions are so common today. 

Asthma sufferers are more likely to get seriously ill if they get COVID-19. But they are not more likely to catch the bug than anyone else. 

Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said people who receive a free flu jab should be extra cautious about socialising on BBC breakfast 

Asthma sufferers are more likely to get seriously ill if they get COVID-19. But they are not more likely to catch the bug than anyone else (stock)

Speaking from Westminster, Professor Van-Tam said that social restrictions apply particularly to all those who would be given the flu jab, other than children. 

WHAT IS THE CURRENT ADVICE FOR ASTHMATICS? 

The Government has now advised that everyone start to reduce the amount of contact they have with others. This is called ‘social distancing’ and it helps cut down the spread of the virus. 

If you have asthma and have no symptoms of COVID-19:

If you have asthma and you have mild symptoms of COVID-19 (a cough or fever) you should stay at home for seven to 14 days.

If symptoms get worse or haven’t gone after seven days, or you have difficulty breathing, you should ring 111 for advice or 999 for emergency care.

For more of Asthma UK’s advice, click here.

Asked specifically about asthma sufferers, he told BBC Breakfast: ‘I don’t want to go into enormous detail into every single risk group but we are saying it is the people who are offered flu vaccines, other than children, who fit into that risk category, people for whom the advice is very strong about social distancing.’    

Asthma affects more than five million people in the UK, according to Asthma UK. Some 200,000 have a severe form of the condition. 

The leading charity said it was aware of increased concern among sufferers about what exactly this would mean for them. 

The condition causes the airways – the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs – to narrow, making it harder to breathe.

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, and so can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. It could lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

After a fever and persistent cough, COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and chest in the pain, and in rare cases, pneumonia. 

High-risk groups also include people with other chronic long term respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis. 

According to a study in China, around six per cent of COVID-19 patients who also had a chronic respiratory illnesses died.

The research, by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on 72,314 COVID-19 patients, also found 10 per cent of patients with heart disease did not survive. 

Government guidance says that daily life disruption is expected to last for a long period of time, and that those with chronic conditions should be ‘shielded’ from social contact for around three months.  

Healthy people below the age of 70 have been urged to work from home if they can, to avoid socialising or going out and to stop all non-essential travel

Data from China shows 6.3 per cent of people who had COVID-19 and a chronic respiratory disease like asthma died compared to 0.9 per cent of healthy people

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a common but incurable condition which affects the small tubes inside the lungs.

It can cause them to become inflamed, or swollen, which restricts the airways and makes it harder to breathe.

The condition affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even go away as children grow older, but can return in adulthood.

Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing, and these may get worse during an asthma attack.

Treatment usually involves medication which is inhaled to calm down the lungs.

Triggers for the condition include allergies, dust, air pollution, exercise and infections such as cold or flu.

If you think you or your child has asthma you should visit a doctor, because it can develop into more serious complications like fatigue or lung infections.

Source: NHS  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the new COVID-19 prevention advice yesterday, saying: ‘In a few days time, by this coming weekend it will be necessary to go further and to ensure that those with the most serious health conditions are largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks. 

‘Again, the reason for doing this in the next few days rather than earlier or later is that this is going to be very disruptive for people who have such conditions.’

But No 10 were pressed for more details on who the most ‘vulnerable’ people really are. 

Baffled Britons took to social media with one Twitter user saying: ‘What are these underlying health issues? Most adults I know have some sort of underlying health issue… very vague all this’.

A massive 43 per cent of adults in England – around 18million people – are living with long-term health conditions, according to an NHS survey. 

Five per cent of those people have asthma, according to NHS England’s Health Survey for England.

According to Asthma UK, anyone with severe asthma that is hard to treat will be contacted from March 23 for advice. 

The Government is also being urged to reveal exactly what health problems the UK’s 53 coronavirus fatalities had before they died.  

There are currently almost 2,000 cases recorded in the UK. However, it is likely this figure is far higher in reality.

The ‘period of shielding’ has been implemented at a time where there will be maximum protection, coinciding with the peak of the disease.

This content was originally published here.

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covid-19

Coronavirus: Amazon suspends all warehouse shipments except medical supplies and ‘high-demand’ products | The Independent

Amazon has temporarily suspended the shipment of all items from independent merchants to its warehouses that are not medical supplies or “high-demand” products. 

This temporary suspension will go through 5 April as the e-commerce giant prioritises products relating to combating the growing coronavirus pandemic. 

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“We are temporarily prioritising household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfilment centres so we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Independent.

“We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritise these products for customers,” the spokesperson added. 

This decision from Amazon comes after the online site saw an increase in shopping from people around the world. Items prioritised by shoppers and subsequently going out of stock related to cleaning supplies and other necessary items for Covid-19. 

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Independent merchants already experienced issues with selling their products after factories in China shuttered during its own outbreak. As China has gotten a handle on the coronavirus in its country, some of these factories have opened up. But now merchants will have to determine what to do with their products. 

Amazon said products already en route to its warehouses will be accepted and shipped out. But no new products will be accepted for the next three weeks.

Independent merchants still have the option to sell their products through Amazon without using the company’s warehouses. But that would put strain on merchants to find an independent warehouse to ship out their products. 

Sellers and vendors will be notified by Amazon once it decides to return to its normal operations. 

Amazon also announced on Monday it would be hiring 100,000 new employees in the US in response to the growing demand for its delivery services. 

“We are opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the US in our fulfilment centres and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public,” the company explained in a post. 

The company is also adding a pay raise to its hourly employees through April given their necessary services during the pandemic. 

This content was originally published here.

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covid-19

Top Democrats say they’re not yet ready to sign off on coronavirus stimulus package

Top Democrats said Sunday they’re not yet ready to sign off on the major coronavirus stimulus package — and will be preparing their own legislation — as Congress attempts to ready the bill for passage as soon as Monday.

Just prior to an 11 a.m. meeting between the top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters “from my standpoint, we are apart.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters ahead of the meeting that “we need a bill that puts workers first, not corporations” and declined to say whether he supports the current bill.

Leaving Sunday’s meeting, Pelosi said she will be introducing her own legislative package “but we are still talking” with Republican leaders. At this point, however, she said there is no bipartisan deal.

The meeting comes hours before a critical procedural vote on the Phase III bill, of which the text has not yet been released. McConnell delayed the vote from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Sunday to give congressional leaders more time to hammer out the details.

Just prior to the meeting, which was held in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Democrats released what they are still opposed to in the stimulus package. According to a person familiar with the negotiations, Democrats say the language allows for corporations to keep bailout money while still firing workers, that the bailout money has virtually no restraints, and that there are very weak stock buyback restrictions.

A senior Democratic aide told NBC News that Democrats are concerned that the bill lacks specific provisions aimed at protecting people from evictions, foreclosure or forbearance and only allowing for three months of unemployment insurance.

Pelosi on coronavirus relief plan: Democrats will

McConnell told reporters after meeting that the Senate plans to move forward with its bill and is “hopeful and optimistic” it will have bipartisan support.

“But make no mistake about it, we’ll be voting tomorrow, I mean the wheel has to stop at some point,” McConnell said. “And I don’t want any of you to buy the notion that this isn’t a thoroughly bipartisan proposal already. There’s still some elbowing and maneuvering for room as you can imagine, but this is a pretty solid like bipartisan proposal agreed to by a lot of rank and file Democrats who were involved in drafting it.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he thought the meeting “was very productive” and that both sides are “very close” to a deal. He added that he doesn’t think Pelosi introducing her own legislation is “productive.”

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“I don’t know that we’d have the time for that,” he said, adding he believes that “would do the country a lot of damage.”

Mnuchin told reporters he’s still optimistic about a deal, saying “we still think we have an overall understanding and we’re going to try to get this on paper.”

What could throw such a timeline into jeopardy is news Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Paul in recent days had contact with many other Senate members, and his announcement triggered a discussion about whether senators should immediately return home or self-quarantine.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he is concerned that other senators could be infected.

“I am concerned about every American, this thing is incredibly infectious so I am concerned about every American,” he said. “Now senators, as a rule, tend to be a little bit older so senators are at an increased risk for complications. But by the way not as high risk as a nursing home. And so we just need to be concerned about everybody right now.”

Democratic senators learned of Paul’s coronavirus test while in the Senate Democratic Caucus meeting on Sunday, according to two sources with direct knowledge of that meeting. Roughly half the senators were in the room, with the rest calling in by conference call. Once the Paul news came out, the senators on the phone urged those in the room to leave immediately and stop congregating together in the room.

But other senators pointed out there’s no provision for the Senate to vote unless senators are physically present and that they can’t just all go home.

According to details of the bill released Thursday, Senate Republicans are proposing giving a $1,200 check to every American adult with an income under $75,000, decreasing gradually after that and zeroing out at $99,000 income. Checks would fall to $600 for those with little or no income tax liability, and $500 will be added in per child. The eligibility is based on 2018 tax filings.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has proposed universal $2,000 checks per month “for the duration of the crisis.” Other Senate Democrats have suggested quarterly checks that begin at $2,000 per person, decreasing over time based on economic triggers.

The total coronavirus package McConnell released costs roughly $1 trillion. Already, Congress has approved — and President Donald Trump has signed — coronavirus aid legislation that provides free coronavirus testing and ensures paid emergency leave, among other measures.

The legislation was a heavy focus of the Sunday political talk shows. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said the vote Sunday will be huge in telling Congress “if we’re able to go forward” on the package.

“It’d be very hard to vote against this,” he said.

The package, Toomey said, will up unemployment benefits while expanding unemployment eligibility, include direct checks, ramp up resources for hospitals and medical researchers, provide major loans to small businesses and create a “very, very large credit facility” jointly stood up by the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

“This is going to be a very, very large, very powerful combination,” he said.

Speaking with “Fox News Sunday,” Mnuchin called the outbreak “a very unique situation that we’ve never had before.”

“This is the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy. And as soon as we can get the medical situation under control, we’re going to reopen it,” he continued. “And to the extent we’ve kept all these small businesses in business, we’ve kept workers with them, when we reopen the economy the economy is going to bounce back significantly.”

He expressed hope the stimulus package is passed Monday “because we need the money now.”

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win this war,’ he added. “I think this bill gives us a lot of money to create a lot of liquidity in the system and protect Americans. And if this lasts longer, we’ll come back again.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., highlighted some of her concerns on Twitter, saying that “Trump wants our response to be a half-trillion dollar slush fund to boost favored companies and corporate executives – while they continue to pull down huge paychecks and fire their workers.”

“This is a critical moment,” she said. “I saw up close the consequences of what Congress did in 2008. The current Trump proposal is far worse than the worst critique of Bush’s 2008 bank bailout. And it makes no long-term changes to make future bailouts less likely.”

This content was originally published here.