Thursday, July 02, 2020

February 8, 2020  BEIJING (AP) — The number of confirmed cases of the new virus has risen again in China while fatalities increased to 722 on Saturday including an American, as the ruling Communist Party faced anger and recriminations from the public over the death of a doctor who was threatened by police after trying to sound the alarm about the disease over a month ago.

The government announced that another 3,399 people had been diagnosed over the last 24 hours, reversing two days of declines, and raising the total accumulated number of cases on the mainland to 34,546.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said a 60-year-old U.S. citizen diagnosed with the virus died in Wuhan on Wednesday, apparently the first American fatality of the outbreak.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said a Japanese being treated in Wuhan had died of pneumonia and also was likely infected with the virus.

Cruise ship passengers faced more woe as Japan reported three more cases for a total of 64 on one quarantined vessel and turned away another. President Xi Jinping spoke with President Donald Trump on Friday and urged the U.S. to “respond reasonably” to the outbreak, echoing complaints that some countries are overreacting by restricting Chinese travelers.

Following an online uproar over the government’s treatment of Dr. Li Wenliang, the Communist Party struck a conciliatory note, saying it is sending a team to “fully investigate relevant issues raised by the public.”

Li, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist, contracted the virus while treating patients, and his death was confirmed early Friday. Li, one of eight medical professionals in Wuhan who tried to warn colleagues and others when the government did not, had said that police forced him to sign a statement admitting he spread falsehoods.

Even the staunchly pro-government Global Times newspaper said the treatment of Li and other whistleblowers was “evidence of local authorities’ incompetence to tackle a contagious and deadly virus.”

The episode has raised longstanding complaints that party officials lie about or cover up disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products or financial frauds. Chinese citizens can be jailed on charges of rumor-mongering or making trouble.

Most of the deaths from the virus have been of older people with existing health problems, but disease specialists said Li’s work — eye doctors sit very close to their patients during examinations — may have subjected him to an extra large dose of the virus that made his illness more severe.

In Japan, three more cases were diagnosed Saturday among 3,700 passengers and crew on the quarantined Diamond Princess. Those aboard remain under 14-day quarantine.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said foreign passengers on another ship, Holland America’s Westerdam, won’t be allowed into Japan. He said suspected virus patients were on board. The ship, with more than 2,000 people, was near Okinawa and was seeking another port, said Overseas Travel Agency official Mie Matsubara.

“We are getting desperate,” she said. “We hope we can go somewhere so that passengers can land.”

Hong Kong began enforcing a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from mainland China Saturday.

“If you sign this form you will need to stay at home. They also warned me that I can’t go out. I must stay at home for 14 days,” said Jennifer Cheung, who arrived at Hong Kong seaport from Henan.

Hong Kong has refused to completely seal its border but hopes the quarantine will dissuade travelers from the mainland.

The U.S. announced later Friday that it is prepared to spend up to $100 million to help China and other countries fight the outbreak. The government also said it helped with the effort to deliver nearly 18 tons of medical supplies donated to the Chinese by the American people, including masks, gowns, gauze and respirators.

All but one the deaths in the outbreak have been in China. China’s National Health Commission said about 6,101 of those being treated, or nearly 17%, are in serious condition. The vast majority of the infected are in China; roughly 290 others are in about two dozen other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.

The U.S. has reported 12 cases.

Hundreds more Americans evacuated from the stricken zone in China began arriving Friday in the U.S., where they will be quarantined on military bases for two weeks.

NEW YORK (AP) — After voicing support for Woody Allen and criticizing cancel culture, Spike Lee apologized Saturday for words he said were “wrong.” In an interview Friday on the New York radio station WOR 710, Lee called Allen “a great, great filmmaker.” “This cancel thing is not just Woody. And I think that when we look back on it, (we’re) gonna see that, short of killing somebody, I don’t if you can just erase somebody like they never existed. Woody’s a friend of mine,” said Lee. “I know he’s going through it right now.”

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Gary Phillips, a prize-winning crime novelist from Los Angeles, grew up on TV shows that showed a world nothing like the one he lived in. “I watched them all, ‘Dragnet,’ ‘Adam 12,’ ‘The Wild, Wild West,’ ‘Mannix,’ ‘Cannon,’ ‘Peter Gunn’ reruns and on and on. Now these were white guys and they were tough but fair and even-handed,” he told The Associated Press in a recent email, referring to popular programs mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. “I remember a ‘Dragnet’ episode where tight-ass Joe Friday solved racism among black and white officers in a weekend retreat. But I was a kid growing up in South Central and even then some part of me knew a lot of this was jive. We knew the cops out of Newton and 77th Division policed the ’hood a lot different than shown on TV.”

NEW YORK (AP) — An angry and emotional Dave Chappelle spoke on the killing of George Floyd in a surprise Netflix special, saying America was being punished for its mistreatment of black men. “I don’t mean to get heavy but we got to say something,” said Chappelle, who added that America is enduring “the wrath of God” for a string of police assaults on black men. The special was released Thursday and is streaming free on Netflix’s comedy YouTube channel. It was taken from a show at an outdoor pavilion in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with about 100 attendees on June 6.

Nanci Ryder, a powerful Hollywood publicist and co-founder of BWR Public Relations who became close to such stars as Renée Zellweger and Courteney Cox, died Thursday of Lou Gehrig’s disease in Los Angeles. She was 67. Ryder was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — or ALS — in 2014. The neurodegenerative disease gradually claimed her ability to walk, talk, eat and move. Her death was announced by publicist Lynda Dorf. Ryder’s clients — including Michael J. Fox, Reese Witherspoon, Viggo Mortensen and Sarah Michelle Gellar — blossomed into close friends. Zellweger thanked Ryder in her best actress acceptance speech when she won the Academy Award for “Judy” earlier this year. Witherspoon called her a “second mother.”