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    The Justice Department inspector general has found additional failures in the FBI's handling of a secretive surveillance program that came under scrutiny after the Russia investigation, identifying problems with dozens of applications for wiretaps in national security investigations. The audit results, announced Tuesday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, suggest that FBI errors while eavesdropping on suspected spies and terrorists extend far beyond those made during the investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. They come as the FBI has scrambled to repair public confidence in how it uses its surveillance powers and as lawmakers uneasy about potential abuses have allowed certain of its tools to at least temporarily expire. The new findings are on top of problems identified last year by the watchdog office, which concluded that the FBI had made significant errors and omissions in applications to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the early months of the Russia investigation. Those mistakes prompted internal changes within the FBI and spurred a congressional debate over whether the bureau's surveillance tools should be reined in. After the Russia report was submitted last December, Horowitz announced a broader audit of the FBI's spy powers and the accuracy of its applications before the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The watchdog office selected for review a subset of applications in both counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations covering the period from October 2014 to September 2019. It found problems in each of the more than two dozen applications it reviewed, including “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.' The audit examined how well the FBI was complying with internal rules that require agents to maintain a file of supporting documentation for every factual assertion they make in an application. Those rules, or “Woods Procedures,' were developed in 2001 with a goal of minimizing errors in the surveillance applications, known by the acronym FISA. Horowitz said in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray that in four of the 29 FISA applications his office selected for review, the FBI could not locate any of the supporting documentation that was supposed to have been produced at the time the application was submitted. Each of the 25 other applications it reviewed contained “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts,' the inspector general said. In those instances, the facts stated in the applications were either not backed up any documentation or were inconsistent with the documentation. The watchdog office said it found an average of about 20 issues per application, including one application with about 65 issues. As a result, Horowitz wrote, “we do not have confidence that the FBI has executed its Woods Procedures in compliance with FBI policy, or that the process is working as it was intended to help achieve the ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications.' The inspector general's office did not make a judgment as to whether the mistakes it identified were “material” to the investigation or to the court's decision to authorize the wiretaps. The office recommended that the FBI “perform a physical inventory' to ensure supporting documentation exists for every application in all pending investigations. It also recommended that the FBI examine the results of “past and future accuracy reviews” so that it can identify trends and patterns and develop better training for agents. The FBI and Justice Department say they have begun making significant changes, including additional training and other safeguards meant to ensure the accuracy of surveillance applications. In a response letter, FBI Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate said the FBI agreed with the office's recommendations, and that the errors identified by the inspector general will be addressed by the more than 40 corrective actions that Wray ordered last year after the Russia probe report. “As Director Wray has stressed, FISA is an indispensable tool to guard against national security threats, but we must ensure that these authorities are carefully exercised and that FISA applications are scrupulously accurate,' Abbate wrote. The Justice Department said in a statement that it welcomes the audit, and that it has “been hard at work' implementing the changes demanded by Wray. Attorney General William Barr has also instituted his own changes, including in the handling of politically sensitive investigations. “The Department is committed to putting the Inspector General’s recommendations into practice and to implementing reforms that will ensure that all FISA applications are complete and accurate,” the statement said. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established in 1978 to receive applications from the FBI to eavesdrop on people it suspects of being agents of a foreign power, such as potential spies or terrorists. Critics have long complained about the opaque, one-sided nature of the application process, and longstanding calls to overhaul the system received a bipartisan push because of the errors identified during the FBI's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The congressional debate tripped up FBI efforts to renew three surveillance provisions that expired this month, with lawmakers adjourning last week without agreeing on legislation that would renew the tools. The Justice Department urged Congress on Tuesday to revive the provisions as it continues working toward broader reforms. “No one was more appalled than the Attorney General at the way the FISA process was abused. This abuse resulted in one of the greatest political travesties in American history and should never happen again,' Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. “However,' she added, “FISA remains a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of the American people, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.' Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would ask Horowitz to appear before the panel to explain his findings. ____ Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP
  • If you’re not sick with the new coronavirus, should you wear a mask in public? Global health authorities say no. Amid a shortage of masks, the U.S. is sticking with that advice but Tuesday, President Donald Trump suggested people who are worried wear a scarf. That shortage is so severe that the Joint Commission, which accredits U.S. hospitals, said Tuesday that if facilities can’t provide proper masks, health workers are allowed to bring their own from home. Front-line health workers have the greatest need for masks. And when people are sick, wearing a mask helps lessen the chances of infecting others. In places where relatives care for the sick at home, the World Health Organization also has recommended they wear a mask. But “there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO's epidemics chief, told reporters Monday. “In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite,” he added, noting risks from an improperly fitted mask or touching the face while taking it off or putting it on. For months as the COVID-19 crisis grew and masks disappeared from store shelves, U.S. health officials have agreed. The virus is believed to spread mostly through droplets from coughs or sneezes, and thus the main advice has been to keep your distance — staying 6 feet away — in addition to frequent hand-washing and not touching your face. Health workers who may be doing procedures that generate tinier particles are supposed to get high priority for tight-fitting filtering masks. “Seriously people - STOP BUYING MASKS!” Surgeon General Jerome Adams wrote in a February 29 tweet. “They are not effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk.” But mask-wearing has long been common in some countries during respiratory outbreaks, especially in parts of Asia. As questions grow about whether people sometimes can spread the virus before realizing they’re sick -- which social distancing is supposed to address — increasingly people ask what it would hurt to wear some form of mask in public. Trump said Tuesday that his scientific advisers made clear the general public shouldn't be competing with hospitals and health workers for scarce masks of any type. His solution: “Use a scarf if you want,” Trump said at the daily White House briefing. “It doesn't have to be a mask. It's not a bad idea at least for a period of time.” Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, had told CNN that once there are enough masks, there might be “some very serious consideration” about broadening the mask recommendations. For now, the advice posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website: “If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask).' __ AP reporter Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Even with major leaguers likely to receive some semblance of another spring training to get ready, teams are going to have to be creative with how they handle starting pitchers whenever baseball returns. The last thing anyone wants is arm problems to arise almost immediately after baseball restarts -- whenever that ends up being because of coronavirus outbreak. “Possibly having a six-man rotation or something along those lines. Maybe a piggyback situation for us just those first couple outings,” Seattle left-hander Marco Gonzales said during a conference call on Tuesday. Gonzales was slated to be the Mariners' starter on opening day. “Maybe we go three or four innings for the starters. And that’s who this affects most really is starting pitchers. Maybe we have a piggyback situation or something along those lines. Like I said, those are things we need to get creative with,' he said. No one knows when baseball will start again after being derailed by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Players want to play as many games as possible -- even into November and December possibly -- without risking their health. For pitchers, and specifically starters, the unknowns can be unnerving. After weeks in Arizona and Florida of building up arm strength pointed toward the start of the regular season, they’re back into offseason mode trying not to lose all that was gained during spring training. “I think that as starting pitchers — I'm speaking for myself and probably a bunch of other guys on the team — we're doing everything we can to maintain kind of where we were, getting our up-and-downs and our pitch counts and all of that,” Chicago White Sox All-Star Lucas Giolito said. “Despite limited resources, we're able to pick up a ball and throw it and change intensities and measure it out,' he said. 'I think when it does come time for us to play again, we've already been communicating pretty much on a weekly basis with our coaching staff and training staff and everything like that. We'll just kind of pick it up and kind of gauge where guys are at and make decisions from there.” Gonzales said he’s viewing this stretch as though it’s the December portion of his offseason throwing program. He’s been trying to find empty fields near his home in Seattle to go throw on occasion with a teammate, but it’s mostly been limited to just long toss. Still, between the limited throwing and having a home gym in his basement, Gonzales estimated between three to four weeks of build-up would probably be needed to get ready for the start of a season. Gonzales also stressed that teams should be allowed to carry extra players to help ease the burden. “I'm trying to stay at a point where I can easily ramp up in three to four weeks,” Gonzales said. “That's different for everyone, so I hope everyone is staying diligent about that because it is going to be important to start on time when we do start.” While starters likely need more time to replenish their arm strength, Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers said relievers shouldn’t have much trouble getting themselves prepared. But he also didn’t envy the uncertainty starters are facing. “If this goes six, eight weeks of nothing, do you expect your starters to be throwing 50-pitch bullpens for eight weeks?” Rogers recently said. “That’s kind of a lot on the arm for nothing, basically. I think the starters are in the toughest spot right now, with not knowing the date, and they obviously take the longest to get ready.” ___ AP Sports Writers Andrew Seligman in Chicago and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this story. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Kevin Durant and Trae Young will lead a 16-player field of NBA players in an NBA 2K20 tournament airing on ESPN. The NBA, the players’ association and 2K announced the NBA 2K Players Tournament on Tuesday. Play begins Friday, and the winner of the week-long competition will receive a $100,000 donation to a coronavirus-related relief effort of their choice. Player have been seeded according to their NBA 2K player rating -- from Durant’s 96 down to Derrick Jones Jr.’s 78 -- and tenure. Durant, the Brooklyn Nets star who sat out this NBA season due to injury, will face Jones in the first game Friday night. Other matches will air on ESPN2. The championship is set for April 11. Participants will each select a pool of eight teams prior to the tournament and can only play with each club once throughout the tournament. Rounds one and two will be single elimination, and the semifinals and finals will be best-of-three. The other matchups include Young vs. Harrison Barnes, Hassan Whiteside vs. Pat Beverley, Donovan Mitchel vs. Rui Hachimura, Devin Booker vs. Michael Porter Jr., Andre Drummond vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine vs. Deandre Ayton and Montrezl Harrell vs. Domantas Sabonis. The NBA has been shut down since March 11, the night that Utah center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to have a positive diagnosis for the virus revealed. The league is still discussing scenarios for resuming play once allowed.
  • Amazon fired a worker who organized a walkout at a New York warehouse to demand greater protection against the new coronavirus, saying the employee himself flouted distancing rules and put others at risk. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city's Commission of Human Right to investigate whether the dismissal was retaliatory. New York Attorney General Letitia James called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate and said her office is also considering legal options. “It is disgraceful that Amazon would terminate an employee who bravely stood up to protect himself and his colleagues,' James said in a statement. Amazon said the worker, Christian Smalls, received several warnings for violating social distancing guidelines. Amazon said Smalls showed up at the protest at the Staten Island warehouse Monday despite a order to remain home for 14 days with pay because he had come into contact with a co-worker who had been diagnosed with the virus. But Smalls said his contact with the infected worker was limited and felt Amazon put him on leave to get him out of the way. He said he noticed the worker looked ill last Tuesday and encouraged the person in a brief conversation to go home. Smalls said that Tuesday had been his first day back at work after more than a week because he had been using paid and unpaid time off to avoid going to a job where felt exposed to the virus. After the worker tested positive, Smalls said he and others workers asked if the warehouse would be shut down for cleaning but were told it would stay open. After that, Smalls said he spent the rest of the week going to the warehouse without clocking in, instead spending each day in the break room leading protests. “Everybody is scared. People are scared to lose their jobs. Who's their voice? I'm their voice. It cost me my job but so be it,” Smalls said. Amazon said a small fraction of the 5,000 workers work at the warehouse joined the walk-out. The company said it had asked “anyone who was in close contact with the diagnosed individual to stay home with pay' but did not specify how many. The Seattle-based company said it has taken aggressive steps to protect its employees from the virus, including cleaning and distancing measures. Amazon is checking the temperature of anyone entering the Staten Island warehouse, a step the company said would be implemented in other facilities as soon as possible. The company said it consults with local and federal health authorities on how to handle building closures if an employee tests positive, including evaluating the worker's interactions with others. “We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe,” Amazon said in a statement. “The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day.” Several walk-outs and protests have drawn attention to fear and discontent among low-wage workers on the front lines of the pandemic, particularly those packing and delivering groceries and other essentials for millions of people hunkering down at home. A group of workers at Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, planned to stage a “sick out' Tuesday to demand hazard pay, immediate closure and cleaning of stores if a worker tests positive for the virus and health benefits for part-time and seasonal workers. It was unclear how widespread the protest was. Whole Foods said the protest was being led by a “small but vocal group,' including many who don't work for the company. In a statement, Whole Foods said the sick-out had “no operational impact” on its services. Whole Foods said it offers workers up to two weeks of paid time off if they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantined, an additional $2 per hour on top of hourly base pay, and increased overtime pay. Amazon is also offering an additional $2 per hour for its hourly workers. Amazon is hiring 100,000 more workers to meet a surge in demand for deliveries, one of several companies that have announced such hiring sprees. Despite the hazards of the jobs, many people are applying as layoffs soar retail, restaurants, airlines and other industries. Instacart, the San Francisco-based grocery delivery app, is hiring 300,000 more contracted workers, saying orders have surged 150% in recent weeks compared to last year. Some Instacart workers walked off the job Monday to demand hazard pay and more protective gear against the virus. ______ Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this story from New York.
  • Canada's largest city, Toronto, announced Tuesday it is canceling all city-led and permitted events through June 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor John Tory said that includes Pride Toronto in late June. Don Peat, a spokesman for the mayor, said it applies to events that get city permits like parades and festivals and does not include sports events like the Blue Jays, Raptors and Maple Leafs.. But Ontario already has a province wide ban of gatherings of more than five people. The province has not said how long that will be in force though. Toronto city spokesman Brad Ross said games in arenas or stadiums fall under the mass gathering order issued by the province. “We have cancelled events that are City-led or need permits to the end of June. These are, primarily, events that have been planned or are being planned to give organizers certainty,” Ross said. Tory said the health and safety of residents has to be the priority and said physical distancing is critical. The decision to cancel was made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. Toronto has at least 628 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including eight deaths. 'Many of these events of course involve thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, and it is doubtful that the health environment will be where it needs to be on the original scheduled spring dates if these events are to happen in a healthy safe and stress free way,' Tory said.
  • Widely hailed as the right thing to do for student-athlete welfare, the NCAA's decision to extend spring sports athletes' eligibility a year because of the coronavirus pandemic is causing consternation for baseball coaches. Ohio State's Greg Beals said Tuesday he isn't worried about 2021, when the 35-man roster limit will be relaxed to accommodate seniors choosing to return for another season. The problem comes in 2022, when the limit is back in force. Beals has 11 freshmen coming in this fall, and they will join nine players who will be reclassified as freshmen because the 2021 season ended abruptly March 12. “So I have a freshman class of 20, and that class is going to stay with me for the next four years,” Beals said. “So there’s some challenge there. We’re going to be able to work through it. There's going to be some tough conversations while the roster is thick and strong. The lineup card still only has nine slots on it.” The NCAA allows a total of 11.7 scholarships per team in Division I baseball, and it's required they be divided among 27 players. Eight walk-ons are permitted, taking the roster maximum to 35. Baseball is the only spring sport with a roster limit. Seniors who choose to return in 2021 will be allowed to have the same scholarship amount they had this year, less or none at all. Returning seniors' scholarships won't count against the 11.7 limit. Looming logjams because of the extended eligibility could force coaches to sign smaller recruiting classes and nudge underperforming players to transfer or quit. “The greater effect might be two or three years from now,” LSU's Paul Mainieri said. 'Most schools in the SEC have their 2021 recruiting classes for high school players already done. So now you're bunching a lot of kids together, and we'll see how it plays out. “As far as this year, the impact is minimal. What is of greater impact is what Major League Baseball does with their draft.” The draft always plays a role in roster management, but there's additional stress for coaches and players this year. Because of the pandemic, MLB might not hold the draft until late July, and there's no clarity about number of rounds. The renewal date for scholarships is July 1, and coaches might not know which players are staying or going by then. If there are five or 10 rounds instead of the usual 40, juniors and seniors who aren't projected to go in the early rounds would be apt to return to school. The more rounds there are, the more likely there'll be fewer junior and seniors returning. The fall semester could be drawing close before the numbers are known. “You've got freshmen that are coming in that were counting on those seniors and juniors leaving or going to the draft,” Mississippi athletic director Keith Carter said, 'so what does that look like for the young players and does that change the dynamic with them?” Junior colleges stand to be the beneficiary of the uncertainty. Iowa Western Community College coach Marc Rardin said he recently got four calls in one day from advisers for high school seniors looking for a fallback plan if they aren't drafted and the Division I schools they signed with have clogged rosters. “Some kids who are signed with four-year schools coming out of high school are a little apprehensive about it and want to make sure they get somewhere they can have a chance to develop and play,” Rardin said. An NCAA spokeswoman said rules remain unchanged for players who decide to transfer from one Division I school to another. The extended eligibility travels with them, but the scholarship they receive would count against the 11.7 limit this year. If a junior-college transfer's 2020 season ended because of the pandemic, his Division I school could apply for a waiver to extend that student’s NCAA eligibility. Graduate transfers can play immediately and could receive the same, less or more aid than they did at their previous school. The extended eligibility decision coincides with concerns about athletic funding. Schools can tap into the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for returning seniors next spring. NCAA distributions to schools have been reduced because of the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournament, and there is uncertainty about how the pandemic will affect the football season and the revenues associated with it. “As an athletic director, the challenge now becomes finding the resources to fund these unanticipated scholarships given the uncertainty surrounding our enterprise,” Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder said. “However, I prefer this challenge over the alternative of telling our athletes they lost a year of eligibility.” ___ AP Sports Writers Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, Gary Graves in Louisville and Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City contributed.
  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. Public health officials stressed that the number could be less if people across the country bear down on keeping their distance from one another. “We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. That would require all Americans to take seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease, she said. Added Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, “This is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.” Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in a pandemic that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more. 'I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we've ever had in our country,” Trump added. “We're going to lose thousands of people.” The jaw-dropping projections were laid out during a grim, two-hour White House briefing. Officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. And the model's high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World II. “There's no magic bullet,” Birx said. 'There's no magic vaccine or therapy. It's just behaviors. Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic.” Fauci called the numbers “sobering” and urged Americans to “step on the accelerator” with their collective mitigation efforts. “We are continuing to see things go up,” Fauci said. “We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.' Birx said pandemic forecasts initially predicted 1.5 million to 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. But that was a worst-case scenario, without efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing. She added that states that have not yet seen a spike in cases as New York has could take action to flatten the curve of rising hospitalizations and deaths. It’s not only social distancing that could make a difference, but also the frantic efforts by hospitals around the country to prepare for an onslaught of seriously ill patients. The better prepared hospitals are, the greater the chances of lives being saved. There’s also a wild card when it comes to treatment: whether the experimental drug combination Trump has touted — a medicine for malaria and an antibiotic — will actually make a difference. That combination is already being used on thousands of patients, and Fauci said he would want to see a rigorous test of its effectiveness. Trump's comments came after he announced Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that advise Americans to cease large gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus. It was an abrupt reversal for Trump, who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans “pack the pews” for Easter Sunday services. Trump called the data “very sobering,” saying it was his understanding that 100,000 deaths was a minimum that would be difficult to avoid. He also sought to rewrite his past minimization of the outbreak, saying he rejected those who compared the new coronavirus to the flu — when in fact he repeatedly did so publicly. “This could be hell of a bad two weeks,'” Trump said. He added: “You know 100,000 is, according to modeling, a very low number. In fact, when I first saw the number ... they said it was unlikely you’ll be able to attain that. We have to see but I think we're doing better than that.” Trump played down concerns from New York's Andrew Cuomo and other governors that their states' hospitals don't have enough ventilators to treat an anticipated crush of patients. Trump said the federal government currently has a stockpile of 10,000 ventilators that it plans on distributing as needed. “Now, when the surge occurs, if it occurs fairly evenly, we'll be able to distribute them very quickly before they need them,” Trump said. “But we want to have a reserve right now. It's like having oil reserves.” Birx said the experiences of Washington state and California give her hope that other states can keep the coronavirus under control through social distancing. That’s because they moved quickly to contain the early clusters of coronavirus by closing schools, urging people to work from home, banning large gatherings and taking other measures now familiar to most Americans, she noted. “I am reassured by looking at the Seattle line,” she added. “California and Washington state reacted very early to this.” Many other states and local governments already have stiff controls in place on mobility and gatherings. Trump said he would also ask Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow the docking of two cruise ships with passengers who have had contact with patients suffering from COVID-19. Passengers are anxious to disembark once they reach Florida, but DeSantis said the state's health care resources are already stretched too thin to take on a ship's coronavirus caseload. “They're dying on the ship,” Trump said. “I'm going to do what's right, not only for us for but humanity.” Trump also said he planned to curtail his travel for the month ahead and stay close to the White House to safeguard his health. The president hasn't held one of his signature big-stadium rallies since early March, and it's unlikely he'll be holding another one anytime soon. 'I think it's important that I remain healthy. I really do,' Trump said. “So for the most part we're staying here.” Trump spoke after another troubling day for the stock market, which has been in a free fall as the cononavirus ground the economy to a near-halt and left millions unemployed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points, or roughly 1.9%, to seal the worst first-quarter finish of its 135-year history.
  • It has become a grim ritual outside New York City’s hospitals: workers in protective gear loading the bodies of coronavirus victims into refrigerated trailers. A surge in deaths in the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S. has overwhelmed the city’s permanent morgues and filled storage spaces in many hospitals to capacity. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 85 refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary morgues, the city said. It’s been that way for days at Brooklyn Hospital Center, where a worker Tuesday wheeled out a gurney carrying a body covered in white plastic, a forklift operator carefully raised a body into the trailer and undertakers came to claim the remains of yet another of the city’s nearly 1,000 coronavirus dead. The hospital said in a statement that the “unprecedented crisis calls for extraordinary measures” and that extra storage is needed “to accommodate the tragic spike in deaths, placing a strain on the entire system of care — from hospitals to funeral homes.” “Grieving families cannot quickly make arrangements, and their loved ones who have passed are remaining in hospitals longer, thus the need for this accommodation,” the hospital in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood said. The city's medical examiner's office has also started operating a makeshift morgue, as it did after the Sept. 11 attacks, to provide emergency capacity as the city’s permanent facilities fill up. The city's coronavirus death toll more than doubled in the past four days, surging from 450 on Friday to 932 as of Tuesday morning. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia and can be fatal. The city and FEMA have delivered refrigerated trucks to various hospitals, while the Office of Chief Medical Examiner has been guiding them on how to properly move and store bodies, officials said. “To see the scenes of trailers out there and what they're doing with those trailers — they're freezers, and nobody can even believe it,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday. At some hospitals, like Lenox Hill in Manhattan, the trailers are being parked on city streets, along sidewalks and in front of apartments. Cars and buses passed by as bodies were loaded Tuesday outside Brooklyn Hospital Center. Cellphone videos posted on social media over the weekend drew attention to hospitals using trailers to store bodies. An image from one video of the activity outside Brooklyn Hospital Center appeared on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Post. “It's hard to believe this, but this is for real,” said the man shooting the video, his voice quaking. “Lord have mercy, help us Lord, this is for real.”
  • Prominent orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has temporarily halted Tommy John operations at his Florida medical center in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came Tuesday from his institute in Gulf Breeze. Some have questioned whether a reconstructive elbow surgery for a ballplayer is an essential procedure at this time. 'We are not performing any non-urgent or non-emergent procedures, including Tommy John surgery, in compliance with the governor's executive order. We are adhering to these restrictions and all such cases are suspended at this time,' a statement from an Andrews Institute spokesperson said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order earlier this month that bars 'any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery' that wouldn't put a patient at risk if delayed. Stars Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard and Luis Severino are among the pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery since spring training started, performed by different doctors. Sale's surgery was done by Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday. ElAttrache also looked at Syndergaard's situation. “I know that I’m going to get criticized for taking care of these kinds of guys, but it’s essential to their livelihoods,” ElAttrache was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle last week. “If you have somebody’s career at stake and they lose two seasons instead of one, I would say that is not a nonessential or unimportant elective procedure,' he said. Andrews, who turns 78 in May, has long been among the top sports orthopedists in the world. He also maintains a medical center in Birmingham, Alabama. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports