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Tribune News Service

News Budget for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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Updated at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 UTC).

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Adds COURT-MEDICARE-DENIALS:HC, CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-SUPPLIES:WA, STIMULUS-CLIMATECHANGE:BLO, CORONAVIRUS-LOUISIANA:LA, CORONAVIRUS-CRUISESHIPS:MI

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Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.

This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.

^TOP STORIES<

^Senate vote expected on $2 trillion economic stimulus package<

CORONAVIRUS-STIMULUS:LA — The Senate returned Wednesday with plans to vote on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package — the largest in U.S. history — designed to pump money directly into Americans' pockets while also shoring up hospitals, businesses and state and local governments struggling against the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite announcing a deal around 1 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, final legislative text, including many details of how the money will be spent, was not available by the afternoon.

The Senate vote has not yet been scheduled, but the bill is expected to pass there with large bipartisan support after five days of tense, marathon negotiations.

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^Q&A: Lawmakers have negotiated a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. What happens next?<

CORONAVIRUS-STIMULUS-QA:LA — Lawmakers in the wee hours of Wednesday morning agreed on a rescue package for the U.S. economy that is the largest in the history of the nation. Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on roughly $2 trillion meant to help workers and distressed businesses hurt by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Here's what you need to know.

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^Trump's refusal to use wartime powers to direct scarce medical supplies has left states fighting it out<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-SUPPLIES:LA — When President Donald Trump invoked emergency war powers last week to fight the coronavirus outbreak, many were hopeful that the federal government would take charge in addressing the nation's dire shortage of ventilators, protective masks and other critical gear for patients and medical staff.

But Trump has not made actual use of the powers granted in the Korean War-era law known as the Defense Production Act, even though state governors, health experts and lawmakers of his own party have appealed to the administration to employ that authority to bulk up production of medical equipment and supplies, and just as critically, to ensure that they're distributed to areas of most urgent need.

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CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-SUPPLIES:WA — 900 by Tara Copp and Michael Wilner in Washington. MOVED

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^Cuomo gives grim coronavirus update as 199 now dead in NYC and cases spiral to 30,000 in state<

CORONAVIRUS-NY:NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded the alarm Wednesday that coronavirus cases and deaths are still spiking in New York.

The governor issued a new edict banning contact in city playgrounds and floated a proposal to close some New York City streets to traffic.

"We're still on the way up the mountain," Cuomo said, pointing to the rising curve of positive cases and deaths.

700 by Dave Goldiner in New York. MOVED

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^Britain's Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-PRINCECHARLES-1ST-LEDE:DPA — Prince Charles, 71-year-old son of Queen Elizabeth II and the heir to the throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the British royal family said on Wednesday.

Clarence House said Charles is self-isolating at home in Scotland with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

"He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual," it said, adding that Camilla, 72, is not infected.

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^CORONAVIRUS<

^UNITED STATES<

^What would it take to lift coronavirus restrictions? Experts weigh in<

^CORONAVIRUS-RESTRICTIONS:BLO—<U.S. coronavirus infections have passed 50,000. The death toll, while still well below the worst-hit countries, is expected to rise. Personal protective gear has run short at hospitals, and many patients with mild symptoms still can't get tested.

The U.S. isn't yet close to having its COVID-19 outbreak under control. But with markets in turmoil and jobs being lost across the country, President Donald Trump has begun laying the groundwork for state and local governments to lift personal restrictions and shutdowns of businesses that have devastated local economies.

Many medical experts think the U.S. won't be ready to lift restrictions for weeks or months.

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^Yellowstone and other national parks are closing after waived fees led to more visitors<

CORONAVIRUS-NATIONALPARKS:CON — A week ago, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt waived entry fees to national parks across the country to encourage people to use the outdoors as safe escapes during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were limited restrictions and warnings for people to stay at least 6 feet apart to protect themselves.

Cabin-sick visitors eager to escape the confines of their homes came in droves, partly lured by warmer weather and blooming flowers. The large numbers prompted the National Park Service to close access to some parks this week, including some of the largest and most visited.

500 by Elvina Nawaguna in Washington. MOVED

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^Elderly stranded in hospitals as nursing homes turn them away over coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-ELDERLY:LA — Carl Schoen's 99-year-old mother has lived in a nursing home for five years. On March 13, she was taken to the emergency room at Huntington Memorial Hospital with pneumonia.

She got better within a few days, but now the nursing home won't take her back because she can't prove she doesn't have the coronavirus. She got tested 12 days ago but the results aren't back yet.

Across the country, hospitals and nursing homes are stuck in similar high-stakes battles over the fate of elderly patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

1300 by Jack Dolan, Harriet Ryan and Brittny Mejia in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^New York hospital workers forgo tests and gulp back fears<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-HOSPITALWORKERS:BLO — New York area hospitals are so inundated by COVID-19 cases that they are no longer able to test medical workers who fear their exposure to sickened patients may have made them ill.

With cases rising at an alarming rate in the region, hospital executives confirmed that dozens of their own medical workers have been stricken by the virus. Some hospitals are abandoning tests of workers who show no symptoms and are sending them back to care for patients. They are acting reluctantly and wary of alienating their staffs, but can do so within the emergency guidelines issued by the state and federal government.

1000 (with trims) by David Kocieniewski and David Voreacos in New York. MOVED

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^'Most since 9/11': NYC responders deluged with emergency calls<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-911CALLS:BLO — Calls to New York City's 911 medical services hit their highest levels since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to emergency workers' unions, stretching staffs that have already seen their own ranks thinned by coronavirus infections.

Medical emergency calls are up 40% to about 6,500 a day, according to Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, a union that represents emergency medical technicians, paramedics, fire inspectors and dispatchers.

400 by Polly Mosendz in New York. MOVED

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^How Silicon Valley became California's epicenter of the coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-SILICONVALLEY:LA — The Silicon Valley has long driven California's economic engine. When the coronavirus hit U.S. shores, the region also become California's epicenter of contagion.

Authorities in Santa Clara County, where more than 2 million people live, were well aware the virus would arrive. They tried to prepare. But without much federal help, they were unable to stop it.

1400 (with trims) by Maura Dolan and Susanne Rust in San Jose, Calif. MOVED

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^Will California's coronavirus crisis look like Italy's soon?<

^CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-OUTLOOK:LA—<It begins each day in the early afternoon: Patients stream into hospitals with fevers, shakes, chills and breathing problems. In Italy, the latest country hardest hit by the new coronavirus, it's been happening seemingly like clockwork.

"It's really hard to see so many people sick at the same time," Dr. Roberto Cosentini, a doctor in the northern city of Bergamo near Milan, said in a podcast for emergency room physicians. "It's like a regular daily earthquake."

Is this what's in store for California?

1150 (with trims) by Rong-Gong Lin II. MOVED

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^California has $21 billion in 'rainy day' fund; coronavirus threatens to wipe it out<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-SURPLUS:LA — For more than six years, through two governors and hundreds of lawmakers' votes, California's state government slowly built the largest cash reserve in its history — projected to total $21 billion by next summer.

But there are growing fears that the fast-moving crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic could force it to be spent in a matter of months.

1600 by John Myers in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED

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^Neither hurricanes nor 9/11 caused as big a surge in gun sales as coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-GUNSALES:MI — Gun shop owners have never seen such a surge in sales — not after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, not in reaction to mass shootings, not even when Category 5 hurricanes threatened to flatten South Florida.

Fear and uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are motivating people to buy guns and ammunition as they seek protection from possible doomsday disintegration into lawlessness, with home invasions, looting, runs on banks, and fights over food, medicine, hospital beds and shelter across the land.

1450 (with trims) by Linda Robertson in Miami. MOVED

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^Louisiana pastor defies stay-at-home order, holds services for hundreds<

CORONAVIRUS-LOUISIANA:LA — Despite a stay-at-home order this week from Louisiana's governor, the Rev. Tony Spell was praying over a woman in his Baton Rouge church Wednesday morning.

"God, in the name of Jesus, I want you to touch her; I want you to heal her body; I want the spirit of peace and God to go forth with her," the evangelical pastor intoned.

As city and state officials across the country ordered people to remain at home to combat the virus's spread, people have been defying those orders. But Spell's Pentecostal services pose a unique challenge in this deeply Christian state — one that pits constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech against efforts to protect public health.

700 by Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston. MOVED

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^Sheriff suspends efforts to close LA gun stores amid coronavirus restrictions<

CORONAVIRUS-LA-GUNSTORES:LA — One day after announcing that gun shops were nonessential businesses that needed to close their doors amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has shelved efforts to shut them down.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed the development on Twitter early Wednesday morning, writing that department "efforts to close nonessential businesses have been suspended" and that Gov. Gavin Newsom would "determine what qualifies" as one.

400 by Luke Money and Richard Winton in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^NRA praises Conn. governor for allowing gun stores to remain open during coronavirus shutdown<

CORONAVIRUS-NRA-CONN:HC — As governors across the country put their states into lockdown and allow only essential businesses to remain open, they're split on one question: Are gun stores essential?

In Connecticut and a handful of other states, the answer is yes.

450 by Emily Brindley and Eliza Fawcett in Hartford, Conn. MOVED

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^Falwell's Liberty University says about 1,700 students returned<

^CMP-CORONAVIRUS-LIBERTY:BLO—<Liberty University said about 1,700 students returned to campus after the school's president, Jerry Falwell Jr., gave those enrolled the option even as the coronavirus outbreak worsened across the U.S.

Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb provided the figure Wednesday and said the school has about 15,000 residential students.

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^Two Costa cruise ships plan to dock at PortMiami Thursday with 30 sick on board<

CORONAVIRUS-CRUISESHIPS:MI — Two Costa Cruises ships — the Favolosa and the Magica — plan to dock in PortMiami Thursday with 30 sick people on board, a company spokesperson said.

At least six people on the Favolosa and two people on the Magica have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks after disembarking from the ships. Now, only crew remain on board, and at least 30 of them have flulike symptoms, according to a spokesperson for Carnival Corp., which owns Costa Cruises.

300 by Taylor Dolven in Miami. MOVED

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^In Miami, hospitals aren't only medical facilities bracing for COVID-19. So is the morgue<

CORONAVIRUS-MIAMI-MORGUE:MI — As the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm Florida's medical system for the living, the outbreak could also affect the doctors who deal in death.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office may not wind up doing many autopsies on the inevitable COVID-19 deaths, but it nevertheless plays a vital role, issuing death certificates for those who succumb to diseases threatening the public's health.

1150 (with trims) by David Ovalle in Miami. MOVED

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^South Florida clinic promotes antimalarial drug for coronavirus treatment<

CORONAVIRUS-FLACLINIC-DRUG:FL — The CEO of a South Florida-based chain of primary care clinics says he's convinced that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine can help reduce the coronavirus' attack on patients' respiratory systems, or prevent symptoms altogether.

1050 (with trims) by Ron Hurtibise in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED

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^States seek Medicaid flexibilities due to COVID-19 emergency<

CORONAVIRUS-MEDICAID:CON — States are winning additional Medicaid flexibilities from the Trump administration through special emergency waivers that allow them to better address prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

The waivers allow states to take steps including easing licensing restrictions on new or out-of-state doctors and other providers, and allowing nursing homes or other residential facilities to move patients to alternate settings.

1200 (with trims) by Sandhya Raman in Washington. MOVED

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^US officials temporarily halt default student loan debt collection<

CORONAVIRUS-STUDENTLOANS:AT — U.S. Department of Education officials announced Wednesday a 60-day suspension of collection actions and wage garnishments against default student loan borrowers to provide additional assistance to those borrowers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, private collection agencies have been instructed to halt all collection activities, including making phone calls to borrowers and issuing collection letters and billing statements.

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^'Zoombombing' hits USC as classes are interrupted with racist remarks<

CMP-CORONAVIRUS-ZOOMBOMBING:LA — Top administrators at the University of Southern California apologized to the school community after some online classes fell prey to "Zoombombing," disrupted by people making racist remarks.

"Zoombombing" is a relatively new frontier in internet trolling in which someone takes advantage of features of the Zoom video-conferencing platform to interrupt meetings and lectures.

300 by Luke Money in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^Detroit police commanding officer dies of COVID-19; 2nd death at agency<

CORONAVIRUS-DETROIT-POLICE-DEATHS:DE — A second member of the Detroit Police Department has died from COVID-19, a Detroit police spokesman confirmed Tuesday evening.

150 by Darcie Moran, Gina Kaufman and Joe Guillen in Detroit. MOVED

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^UAW confirms 2 members have died from coronavirus, both FCA factory workers<

CORONAVIRUS-FACTORYWORKERS-DEATHS:DE — A UAW official said late Tuesday that the union is mourning the death of two members who tested positive for the novel coronavirus and have died.

150 by Phoebe Wall Howard in Detroit. MOVED

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^Q&A: A search for answers in 17-year-old boy's death that may be linked to coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-BOY-QA:LA — Officials are trying to determine whether a teenager in Lancaster died of coronavirus and are awaiting the results of more testing.

The boy's father, an Uber driver, is suspected of having the virus, but it remains unclear how the boy may have contracted it.

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^THE WORLD<

^Countries should stop wasting time and fight virus, WHO says<

CORONAVIRUS-WHO:BLO — Governments should stop wasting precious time needed to fight the coronavirus after squandering an opportunity to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization's head said.

"We squandered the first window of opportunity," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago."

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^Tokyo Olympics could be held before the summer of 2021<

OLY-CORONAVIRUS-POSTPONEMENT:LA — A day after announcing the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the head of the International Olympic Committee suggested the competition might be rescheduled at some point before the summer of 2021.

Speaking with hundreds of reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said a newly formed task force will face the "huge jigsaw puzzle" of setting a new date amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

400 by David Wharton. (Moved as a sports story.) MOVED

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^Spain reports deadliest day of outbreak as virus crisis deepens<

^CORONAVIRUS-EUROPE:BLO—<Spain reported another 738 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, the deadliest day in the country to date.

The total number of fatalities rose to 3,434, and the number of confirmed cases climbed to 47,610, from 39,673, the Health Ministry said.

Spain has been rocked by the second-worst outbreak in Europe after Italy, which had its second-deadliest day Tuesday. That dashed hopes the toll of Italian fatalities is declining. Hospitals there are overflowing and the government is struggling to bring the crisis under control.

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^Singapore says its app can slow spread of coronavirus; critics say it's government surveillance<

^CORONAVIRUS-SINGAPORE:LA—<The Singaporean government introduced an app that will alert users if they've been in close proximity to a confirmed case of the coronavirus, helping authorities slow the spread of a disease that has surged in the city state over the past week.

The app, called TraceTogether, works by exchanging short distance Bluetooth signals with other users of the app, giving officials a database to track potential COVID-19 carriers.

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^SCIENCE AND MEDICINE<

^Some states are reporting incomplete COVID-19 results, blurring the full picture<

CORONAVIRUS-STATES-REPORTING:KHN — Several states are reporting only positive COVID-19 test results from private labs, a practice that paints a misleading picture of how fast the disease is spreading.

Maryland, Ohio and others are posting the numbers of new positive tests and deaths, for instance, but don't report the negative results, which would help show how many people were tested overall.

"This matters because it gives you a false sense of what is going on in a particular location," said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the

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^Wanted: A coronavirus test to identify people who were infected and then recovered<

^CORONAVIRUS-ANTIBODIES-TEST:LA—<In the coronavirus pandemic, the next testing challenge will be to diagnose the recovered.

Identifying those who are no longer sick with COVID-19 may not seem as urgent as testing those who may be newly infected. So why scramble to confirm that patients have returned to health or find ones who never seemed sick in the first place?

The answer: Because they can provide care, and perhaps a cure, for those who are sick with COVID-19. And their numbers will offer a barometer of how near we are to this pandemic's end.

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^Why hoarding of hydroxychloroquine needs to stop<

CORONAVIRUS-DRUG-HOARDING:KHN — A family of old anti-malarial drugs — including one that some patients rely on to treat their lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — is becoming harder to get in the United States, pharmacists say, partly because of remarks President Donald Trump has made, highlighting the drugs as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

But health officials have been quick to warn that enthusiasm for such a treatment is premature. Big clinical studies of the drug against COVID-19 are only just beginning, the head of the Food and Drug Administration has said; another study was set to begin in New York on Tuesday. And there are some good reasons to think cell studies that look promising in the lab won't pan out in real patients, other infectious-disease experts say.

Nonetheless, with all the buzz, American pharmacists are concerned about the hoarding of hydroxychloroquine by people who don't have an immediate need.

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^Telehealth visits surge along with coronavirus cases<

CORONAVIRUS-TELEMEDICINE:CON — The coronavirus pandemic is prompting a surge in telemedicine use, and advocates hope recent emergency expansions will mark a turning point in the movement toward virtual care.

As the world continues the new "social distancing" protocol, hospitals are working to reduce in-person contact to slow new infections and conserve resources for the critically ill. The pandemic is triggering a surge in telehealth adoption as U.S. doctors connect to patients virtually, with both established platforms and start-ups reporting astronomic increases in volume.

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^WASHINGTON<

^Supreme Court justices' perks revealed in new report<

SCOTUS-PERKS:CON — When Supreme Court justices speak at public universities across the country, they often travel in style — and, at times, at taxpayer expense.

The justices' travel perks have included private plane trips, blocs of fancy hotel rooms and VIP dinners where they rub elbows with large-dollar university donors.

Those findings come from a new report by the nonpartisan advocacy group Fix the Court that looks at what public universities pay for a visit by a Supreme Court justice.

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^Costs rise more than $100 billion to maintain Navy ships with clogging toilets and other issues<

NAVY-SHIPS-MAINTENANCE:CON — The Navy recently decided to use a different sewage system on its two newest aircraft carriers, one that is modeled on the toilets in commercial aircraft.

But flushing for more than 4,000 people living aboard a carrier turned out to be a harder job than it is on a jetliner. Now the massive ships require regular acid flushes — at $400,000 each — just to keep things flowing.

The current and future price for that particular failure of foresight is not yet known. But the wider cost of addressing unexpected operating and support issues for Navy warships is now coming into clearer view, thanks to a Government Accountability Office audit.

800 by John M. Donnelly in Washington. MOVED

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^Senate's stimulus bill is full of disappointments for climate advocates<

STIMULUS-CLIMATECHANGE:BLO — There was hope among climate activists in the U.S. that the federal stimulus to address COVID-19 might be the moment to both heal the economy and advance a long-overdue transition to clean energy.

Whatever they'd envisioned, the $2 trillion bill agreed to by the Senate in the wee hours of Wednesday morning wasn't it.

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^UNITED STATES<

^Federal court gives Medicare patients a new right to challenge denials of coverage<

COURT-MEDICARE-DENIALS:HC — A federal judge has delivered a sweeping health care victory to senior citizens by giving hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries a right to challenge denial of benefit decisions that for years have left elderly patients struggling under crushing medical bills.

U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea's ruling followed nine years of litigation in a class action brought by Medicare patients around the country whose benefits were cut when hospital review boards made unappealable decisions that switched hospitalization their status from "admitted" to under "observation."

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^Space Force set for first launch Thursday as national security missions take top priority during coronavirus<

SPACEFORCE:OS — The U.S. Space Force is moving ahead with a crucial national security launch Thursday that remains on track, even as installations around the country move to telework due to the coronavirus outbreak.

450 by Chabeli Carrazana in Orlando, Fla. MOVED

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^Here's how the life-saving EpiPen might fail when needed. FDA issues an alert<

EPIPEN:MI — The FDA issued an alert Tuesday after the manufacturer issued a letter the day before to healthcare providers describing the reasons its EpiPen, EpiPen Jr and authorized generic versions might not work or be delayed working.

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^NEWS BRIEFS<

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NEWSBRIEFS:MCT — Nation and world news briefs.

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^TODAY'S TOP NEWSFEATURES<

^Las Vegas, devastated by the 2008 economic crash, struggles with coronavirus shutdown<

CORONAVIRUS-LASVEGAS:LA — It was just two weeks ago that Las Vegas native Carlos Rosales Jr. told his cousin that business at his new barbershop was doing so well that he was considering hiring a third apprentice.

After living through nearly a decade of financial uncertainty following the 2008 economic crash, the military veteran felt optimistic again. But that feeling evaporated last week when Rosales closed the barbershop following a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses in an effort to contain the deadly coronavirus.

"I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage or car payments on my new truck," he said.

The virus has shaken Las Vegas' economy in an unprecedented way, ushering in a new reality for thousands of locals who only recently emerged — some still battered — from the last recession. Those who lost jobs and houses during the early 2010s carry those memories onto a precarious landscape of new economic challenges.

1500 (with trims) by Melissa Etehad and Lucas Kwan Peterson in Las Vegas. MOVED

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^Financially strained and low on supplies, community clinics help fight the coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CLINICS:LA — Three days ago, Precious Williams began to feel sick. The young pregnant mother had a runny nose, a sore throat and shortness of breath — just some of the symptoms associated with novel coronavirus.

Concerned for her unborn child, the 22-year-old went to the Watts Health Center in South L.A. like she always has for her medical needs.

"I've been coming here since I was a child," she said. "It's where I've gotten all my shots, where I got all my dental done — everything."

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, community clinics and health centers in Los Angeles County have helped mitigate the spread of the virus and prevented sick patients from overwhelming hospitals.

Community clinics that typically handle primary care including checkups and prescribe patients insulin for diabetes or medicines for their high blood pressure have been canceling their regular appointments and seeing more patients with symptoms that match those of the coronavirus.

1500 (with trims) by Ruben Vives in Los Angeles. MOVED

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