On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

heavy-rain-night
77°
Sct Thunderstorms
H 77° L 73°
  • heavy-rain-night
    77°
    Current Conditions
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 77° L 73°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    77°
    Evening
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 77° L 73°
  • cloudy-day
    74°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 89° L 75°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

local
Final Coast Guard El Faro report: “This is a call to action for the entire maritime community”
Close

Final Coast Guard El Faro report: “This is a call to action for the entire maritime community”

Final Coast Guard El Faro report: “This is a call to action for the entire maritime community”
Photo Credit: None None None

Final Coast Guard El Faro report: “This is a call to action for the entire maritime community”

More than two years after the Jacksonville cargo ship El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin, killing all 33 people on board, the Coast Guard Commandant has released his orders on what should and will change to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.

This past October, the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation that probed the sinking released its Report of Investigation, detailing dozens of recommendations they compiled through their two year investigation, which included holding three two-week hearing sessions in Jacksonville. Since then, the Commandant has been reviewing the ROI, and he has now issued a Final Action Memo. That FAM details what the Commandant concurs with, what he will order, and what he disputes from the MBI’s findings.

“The loss of El Faro and its crew members was tragic and preventable. The Coast Guard will take appropriate action on all that we have learned from this investigation,” says Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft. 

FULL COVERAGE:  The sinking of El Faro

Zukunft approved the findings of fact, analysis, and conclusions detailed in the ROI.  It found the primary cause of the sinking was the decision to navigate the ship too close to the path of Hurricane Joaquin, although the Captain’s attorney has disputed this conclusion. Contributing factors to the sinking outlined in the FAM include the operating company, TOTE Services, having an ineffective safety management system; the ship’s surveyor, the American Bureau of Shipping, failing to uncover and resolve longstanding deficiencies; and the Coast Guard itself failing to adequately oversee third party inspections, including not sustaining the policy framework and proficiency.

“This casualty did not occur due to a lack of standards or requirements; rather it was the result of poor seamanship compounded by failure of the safety framework that should have triggered a series of corrective actions that likely would have prevented it,” the FAM says.

Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy Rear Admiral John Nadeau will lead the efforts in response to the Commandant’s directives- with some of the orders falling under the purview of the Coast Guard and able to be implemented in themselves, but others requiring organized partnerships and even international cooperation.

“The Coast Guard takes the implementation of the safety recommendations in the Commandant’s Final Action Memo very seriously and is committed to providing sustainable policy, oversight, and accountability both internally and externally,” Nadeau says.

“This is a call to action for the entire maritime community. TOTE, ABS, and the Coast Guard must learn and more with a sense of urgency. This tragic story points to the need for a strong and enduring commitment at all elements of the safety framework,” the FAM says.

This is separate from the NTSB’s investigation, which recently concluded with the issuance of dozens of safety recommendations. The NTSB can only issue and lobby for the recommendations, but cannot order actual change.

Monitoring and alarms

The Commandant concurs with the MBI recommendation to require high water audio and visual alarms on new and existing multi-hold cargo ships. To achieve this, they will pursue domestic regulation and work with the International Maritime Organization on expanding the Safety of Life at Sea regulation.

The MBI recommended watertight closures have open/close indicators visible on the bridge. The FAM says existing regulations require that for most such fixtures, but there is no defined list of “watertight” openings for vessels built before 1992. As such, the Coast Guard is recommending companies identify those openings.

An area where the Commandant says the Coast Guard doesn’t object- but will not necessarily require- is the recommendation to have closed circuit television cameras installed in unmanned spaces, allowing monitoring from the bridge. The Commandant says high water alarms as recommended and existing fire detection requirements give sufficient early warning.

The focus on monitoring and alarm systems comes because of the sequence of flooding that’s believed to have transpired on El Faro. Water is believed to have gotten in to a cargo area through an open scuttle- which should have been closed. From there, investigators believe cargo may have been able to break loose on the now-wet deck, and may have hit a fire system on board, leading to more flooding. Water also is believed to have gotten on board through vents that were open- with conflicting guidance for the crew on whether those vent openings should have been open as vents are required, or closed as watertight and weathertight openings. With the vent openings, the Commandant agrees that dual purpose closures can be confusing and impractical, but he’s calling on the company to ensure crew is aware of those conflicts. While the FAM doesn’t conclude whether the fire pump piping was damaged by cargo in this case, the Coast Guard will consider requiring more protection for these types of “vital systems”.

AUDIO: El Faro’s Captain describes ‘marine emergency’ in final shore side communication

The flooding and significant list, followed by an overcorrection that resulted in a more substantial list to the other side, ultimately is believed to have led to a loss of suction in the lube oil system, which led to a loss of propulsion. The MBI raised concerns about the operating limitations of these systems- specifically that suction was lost at that list on that specific side of the ship. The Commandant says the Coast Guard will publish a “Marine Safety Alert” to let maritime operators know about the MBI’s findings about the lube oil sump, but added that there is no “compelling evidence” to suggest testing and design standards need to be revised.

The Commandant did not concur with a recommendation which would have required vessels keep electronic records for areas like bridge and engine room logs, and periodically transmit those logs to the shore during their voyage. Through the hearing process, MBI investigators noted that they didn’t have some information- including crew work/rest hours- because the ship’s logs were lost with the vessel.

The MBI also sought to require a company have onboard and shore side tracking for incremental weight changes. This recommendation largely comes from the MBI’s findings that work was being done on El Faro to convert her to the Alaskan trade, but that work was not being factored in to ship calculations. The FAM says the preferred way to track incremental weight changes is a deadweight survey, and they will recommend that is done when a ship undergoes a stability test, although the Commandant notes that proposal has been put forward twice before, without success.

Safety equipment and Search and Rescue

The NTSB called on new regulations to require enclosed lifeboats on all vessels in their recommendations. The MBI put forward a similar call, wanting the Commandant to work toward eliminating open top gravity launched lifeboats for US ships. The FAM says the Commandant supports phasing out open lifeboats and supports proposals to achieve that, but stops short of saying he will work to require it for existing vessels. On existing vessels with open lifeboats, the Coast Guard is initiating a “concentrated inspection campaign” to make sure the lifeboats are in “serviceable condition”.

There’s no evidence El Faro’s lifeboats ever launched, and investigators largely don’t believe the crew would have been able to survive in the conditions they faced, but they believe the best chance the crew could have had would have been in enclosed lifeboats. El Faro’s lifeboat systems also had work done just ahead of her final departure, and testimony during the hearing showed that work wasn’t properly surveyed.

The MBI recommended that Voyage Data Recorders- or the ship’s black box- be installed in a “float-free” arrangement, which would allow it to break free of the wreckage at the time of a sinking. The MBI further recommends the VDR have an EPIRB, or locating beacon. It took two missions to locate El Faro’s VDR and a third to recover it from the ocean floor, where it was still affixed to the wreckage.

DETAILS: El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder captures audio ahead of sinking

The Commandant acknowledged that, while the requirement for a ship to have a VDR was retroactive, guidelines like having a float-free arrangement were neither mandatory nor retroactive. The Commandant says he will propose to the International Maritime Organization that new VDR installations be required to be float-free and have location indicators. There is no mention of any retroactive requirement.

The MBI further recommended VDRs capture communications on internal ship telephone systems or other two-way communications. The Commandant says the Coast Guard will propose to IMO that additional data sources be captured by the VDR. Investigators believe having that additional audio captured by the VDR can help paint a more complete picture of what is happening on board.

During the MBI’s investigation, it became clear that locating beacons- or Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoys- being used at the time were not effective- the FAM says their success rate was 30%-50%. Since then, those buoys have been taken out of service and replaced with a newer version that the FAM says has a 92% success rate. The MBI recommendation, therefore, that these buoys be evaluated for their reliability has already taken place, although the Coast Guard says it will continue to work with manufacturers about improving functionality and reliability. The Commandant has also identified several products they may acquire to better mark and track floating objects that can’t be immediately recovered during search and rescue.

The Coast Guard is also working with organizations developing domestic and international standards on how to integrate distress signaling and location technology in personal lifesaving appliances, like personal floatation devices.

Only one set of remains was ever found during search and rescue operations after El Faro’s sinking, but none were recovered. Had the Coast Guard immediately recovered the remains, they would have had to return to land immediately. Instead, they put a beacon with the remains and went to check a report of a possible person in the water waving. They didn’t find anything during that search, and the beacon left with the remains malfunctioned, and the remains could not be located again.

Safety management

There was testimony during the MBI hearings that it was difficult to truly anonymously report any issues on a ship while at sea, because email capabilities were on the bridge and the Captain gave permission for use of the phone. The Commandant says there are already systems in place that allow for anonymous reporting of safety issues, if all levels are properly implemented. Therefore, he agreed with the intent of a recommendation to develop a shipboard emergency alert system for anonymous reporting, but cited the rules, regulations, and protections already in place.

The Coast Guard is going to issue new guidance on development, implementation, and verification of a ship’s Safety Management System, dealing specifically with assessing risk, developing contingency plans for emergency situations, and other areas. The FAM says the company is responsible for developing the SMS, but the Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring compliance with International Safety Management code.

In the SMS, the Coast Guard will also specifically look for damage control information that’s required of newer vessels but was not retroactive. The Commandant also concurred with a recommendation to update policies dealing with the approval of stability software.

The Commandant is putting the responsibility for the accuracy of any cargo loading and securing software that’s used on the company, to ensure it’s consistent with a ship’s Loading Manual and- if one exists- Cargo Securing Manual.

The MBI had also recommended civil penalty action against TOTE Services, El Faro’s operator, over four alleged violations including failure to comply with work/rest standards and a lack of safety training and orientation for the Polish riding gang that was on board. The Commandant concurs with the recommendation.

“The investigation has determined that there is evidence that TSI may have committed multiple violations of law or regulation. As such, the alleged violations identified in this recommendation will be referred to the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspections, Jacksonville for investigation and enforcement action, as appropriate,” the FAM says.

On the Coast Guard side, the Commandant is directing a review of their policies for making and documenting a “major conversion” determination. When work on a ship is determined to be a “major conversion”, it generally leads to more modern standards- like for safety systems- being put on the vessel. Investigators determined that work done on El Faro around 2005-06 should have been a “major conversion”, even though that initial ruling from the Coast Guard was overturned on appeal. Had that determination been made, it likely would have led to the ship being required to update to new, enclosed lifeboats, among other things.

Training and inspections

El Faro was surveyed under the Alternate Compliance Program- a special protocol that allows an Alternate Classification Society to perform inspections and other activities on behalf of the Coast Guard. El Faro’s surveyor was the American Bureau of Shipping, which does the lion’s share of the work under this program that is still used on commercial vessels to this day. The MBI recommended the Coast Guard increase oversight and attendance for certifications and audits, after hearing during testimony that there was a lack of oversight and communication among the entities involved. The Commandant says “rather than arbitrarily increasing oversight frequency”, they will determine attendance based on risk and data.

El Faro was set to be put on an increased protocol at the time of her sinking, because of a cluster of recent issues. After El Faro’s sinking, the Coast Guard’s advanced inspectors did a concentrated inspection effort on some of the most at-risk vessels, and that resulted in several vessels getting no-sail orders and others being scrapped.

The Coast Guard will also establish an auditing process, and begin publishing an annual report on domestic vessel compliance, to include no-sail orders and ACS performance statistics.

“The Coast Guard must, and will, establish a risk-based and enduring policy framework that is simpler to execute and enables more robust oversight of delegated functions,” the FAM says.

Training for ACS surveyors is another question. The Coast Guard says they will establish a procedure to assess the effectiveness of ACS surveyor training programs and will ensure inadequacies are immediately addressed. 

Under ACP, any issues that aren’t addressed in the various rules and regulations governing the entities involved are detailed in what’s called US Supplements. 

“As additional ACS’s were authorized to participate in ACP, inconsistency between the supplements of the various ACSs, multiple versions of the same supplement, and the lack of consistent reviews/updates has led to an anthology of supplements that have created more confusion than clarity,” the FAM says.

While the MBI recommended eliminating the use of Supplements, The Commandant says the Coast Guard will work with the ACSs to create a single Supplement, focused mainly on critical systems.

GALLERY: Tributes to the El Faro crew

The Commandant is also ordering the Coast Guard upgrade and enhance its Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement system, which documents deficiencies on a vessel. The upgrade will better allow for capturing, tracking, and analyzing important data about deficiencies.

The Coast Guard identified two areas in their training for mariners which they will work to improve, as a result of this investigation. Both deal with policy guidance for maritime training schools, with one dealing with management level training in advanced meteorology and the other with operational level training in meteorology.  The Coast Guard is also now expanding and enhancing training and qualifications to ensure Sector Commanders and designees can deal with their responsibilities.

The Commandant says the Coast Guard has already acted on another recommendation- creating a steam plant inspection training program. They’re also now establishing an Advanced Journeyman Inspector course to give training on ACP inspections and related areas. Third parties, like ACS surveyors, will be allowed to attend these courses as space allows.

Additionally, the Coast Guard is now considering how to monitor global performance of the US fleet and ACSs. While the MBI recommended establishing a Third Party Oversight National Center of Expertise or Third Party Oversight Office at Coast Guard headquarters, the Commandant said only that they’re considering the available options.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Commissioners from St. Johns County voted this morning to officially ask Elon Musk and the Tesla Company to move to St. Johns County. Earlier this month, Elon Musk was tweeting about how the stay-at home restrictions in Alameda County, California were “facist” and robbed people from their freedom of going back to work. Since then, several cities and states have reached out to Tesla saying they are more than welcome to relocate the car-making plant. That now includes St. Johns County. 'Tesla, Inc., is hereby respectfully and enthusiastically invited to consider St. Johns County, Florida, as a potential destination in the relocation of its headquarters or any future programs,' the resolution states. The resolution also states several facts about St. Johns County, listing why it would be a good place to relocate the headquarters. “St. Johns County, while we have experienced a devastating virus, we are still open for business and we have got to employ our residents so they can put food on the table,” Commissioner James Johns said. This vote was a followup to a discussion by the commissioners on May 19. 
  • More than 5.5 million people worldwide – including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, May 26, continue below:  703 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey Update 12:45 p.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Tuesday that 703 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 155,764. Murphy noted that reports of new cases, which fell Tuesday below the more than 900 new cases reported one day earlier, might be delayed due to the long holiday weekend. “The key metrics from our hospitals continue to move in the right direction,” he said in a Twitter post. “We continue to see many positive signs that we can keep moving forward. We’re seeing many more good days than bad.' Officials also reported 54 more deaths associated with the coronavirus pandemic. As of Tuesday, 11,191 people have died statewide of COVID-19. Pence’s press secretary returns to work after recovering from COVID-19 Update 12:40 p.m. EDT May 26: Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, said Tuesday that she’s returned to work after recovering from a coronavirus infection. President Donald Trump said May 8 that Miller was diagnosed with COVID-19 “all of a sudden.” Miller said Tuesday that she tested negative three times for COVID-19 before returning to work. “Thank you to all my amazing doctors and everyone who reached out with support,” Miller wrote Tuesday in a tweet. “I couldn’t have done it without my amazing husband who took great care of his pregnant wife.” Miller is married to Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser. New Jersey allows professional sports teams return to training, competition Update 12:25 p.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that professional sports teams are now allowed to resume training and competition in the state. “While leagues make their own decisions about operations, I am confident that teams are equipped to practice and eventually play in a responsible manner, protecting the health and safety of players, coaches, and team personnel,” the governor said, according to NBC News. New York Gov. Cuomo to meet with President Trump on Wednesday Update 12:10 p.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he will meet Wednesday with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday that he plans “to talk about a number of things” with the president, including the possibility of ramping up infrastructure projects to boost the economy. “There is no better time to build than right now,” Cuomo said. “You need to create jobs and you need to renew and repair this country’s economy and it’s infrastructure. Now is the time to do it. It’s especially the time to do it when some of the volume is lower.” Jacksonville, Florida mayor says city ‘would be honored’ to host RNC Update 12 p.m. EDT May 26: The mayor of Jacksonville, Florida said Tuesday that the city “would be honored to host the Republican National Convention” after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the convention from North Carolina due to the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. >> Read more on WFTV.com In a series of Twitter posts, Mayor Lenny Curry said his administration and Gov. Ron DeSantis “have created a regulatory framework that operates in (a) way that is attractive to significant events like these.” He offered up the city’s partnership with the UFC, which led to several fan-free shows at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena earlier this month, as evidence that the city “has strongly demonstrated the ability to host large events in a safe (and) responsible way.' Earlier Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said his state would be willing and able to safely host the RNC, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. As of Tuesday morning, 50,916 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in Florida and 2,259 people have died the viral infection. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health said 43,586 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide as of Tuesday morning with 1,853 people killed by the viral infection. In North Carolina, officials said that as of Tuesday morning, 24,140 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus infections and 766 people have died statewide. 73 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that 73 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 95 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Georgia offers to host RNC after Trump threatens to pull convention from North Carolina Update 11:10 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Tuesday offered his state up as host of the Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the RNC from it’s planned setting in North Carolina over the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,' Kemp wrote in a post on Twitter. Trump said in a series of tweets published Monday that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper must immediately tell organizers whether or not they’ll be able to host the convention as expected from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” the president wrote. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Cooper said Monday that state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and reviewing their plans for holding the convention, WSOC-TV reported. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” Cooper said, according to WSOC-TV. As of Tuesday morning, 24,140 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina and 766 people have died, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health said 43,586 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide as of Tuesday morning with 1,853 people killed by the viral infection. New Jersey to allow for socially distanced graduation ceremonies Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that schools will be allowed to begin holding outdoor graduation ceremonies in July provided they comply with social distancing measures. Murphy said the ceremonies will be allowed beginning July 6. The date is about two weeks later than graduations are typically held, according to North Jersey.com. 4,043 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 10:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 4,043 new coronavirus infections Tuesday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 265,227. Officials said that as of 5 p.m. local time Monday, the most recent date for which data was available, 37,048 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Wall Street up as recovery hopes overshadow virus worries Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 26: Wall Street opened sharply higher Tuesday as hopes for economic recovery overshadow worries over the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 jumped to nearly a 3-month high, recovering much of its post-pandemic losses. Investors are shifting their focus to how various nations are adapting to getting back to business, while striving to keep new COVID-19 cases in check. Reassuring comments by the head of China’s central bank also helped spur buying. Benchmarks in Paris, London and Tokyo also gained on Tuesday. Brooklyn Nets allowed to begin voluntary player workouts, reopen training facility Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials with the Brooklyn Nets said the NBA team plans to reopen its practice training facility Tuesday, two days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said professional sports teams in the state would be allowed to begin spring training statewide. In a statement obtained by CNN, team officials said they plan to reopen the HSS Training Center for voluntary player workouts beginning Tuesday. “The organization will strictly follow the protocols outlined by the NBA and infectious disease experts to ensure that all precautions are taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players and staff,” the statement said, according to CNN. Several Nets players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for coronavirus infections in March. Global deaths near 347K, total cases soar past 5.5M Update 7:44 a.m. EDT May 26: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 346,700 early Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,518,905 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 13 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,102.  The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,662,768 cases, resulting in 98,223 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 374,898 cases, resulting in 23,473 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 362,342 cases, resulting in 3,807 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 262,547 cases, resulting in 36,996 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 235,400 cases, resulting in 26,834 deaths. • Italy has reported 230,158 cases, resulting in 32,877 deaths. • France has confirmed 183,067 cases, resulting in 28,460 deaths. • Germany has reported 180,802 cases, resulting in 8,323 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 157,814 cases, resulting in 4,369 deaths • India has recorded 146,371 cases, resulting in 4,187 deaths. Colorado restaurant owners sue state over Mother’s Day license suspension Update 7:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The owners of a Colorado restaurant who defied statewide shutdown orders by allowing throngs of customers to dine on Mother’s Day have field suit against the state for having their license suspended. The suit was filed Friday by the owners of C&C Coffee & Kitchen in Castle Rock against Gov. Jared Polis; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and its director; and the local tri-county health department in Douglas County District Court, The Washington Post reported. The suit alleges owners Jesse and April Arellano were denied their “livelihood and ability to operate their business after they simply allowed customers onto their premises to serve food and beverages.” More specifically, it claims that Polis’ statewide restrictions lack empirical evidence to accurately quantify the novel coronavirus pandemic’s toll because they are based on “fluctuating, often inaccurate projections,” the Post reported. Meanwhile, Polis announced Monday that Colorado restaurants will be allowed to reopen dining rooms beginning Wednesday but with strict capacity measures enforced, The Denver Post reported. Global coronavirus cases top 5.5 million Update 5:53 a.m. EDT May 26: The worldwide total of novel coronavirus cases eclipsed 5.5 million early Tuesday. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, a total of 5,508,904 cases have now been diagnosed globally, resulting in at least 346,508 deaths. South Korea links nearly 250 coronavirus cases to popular Seoul entertainment district Published 4:41 a.m. EDT May 26: A popular nightlife district in South Korean capital Seoul has been linked officially to 247 novel coronavirus cases since social distancing restrictions were eased. According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 83,000 tests have been performed specific to the Itaweon district outbreak, and about 30% of those who tested positive have remained asymptomatic. D.C. officials confident they can contain coronavirus by July Published 3:33 a.m. EDT May 26: The greater Washington, D.C., area could have enough testing equipment, laboratory capacity and contact tracers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, but only if the public remains vigilant, The Washington Post reported. According to public health officials in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the region is expected to reach peak capacity for testing and tracing by June or early July, the Post reported. Read more here. Largest Latin American airline files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus disruptions Update 2:14 a.m. EDT May 26: LATAM Airlines Group has filed for bankruptcy, and the largest Latin American airline cites the novel coronavirus pandemic as the primary cause. In a statement posted to its website, the company said it will reorganize operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. Specifically, CEO Roberto Alvo said LATAM will refocus “on transforming our group to adapt to a new and evolving way of flying, with the health and safety of our passengers and employees being paramount.' No immediate impact is expected to affect reservations, employee pay, flight vouchers or passenger and cargo operations, according to the statement. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths surpass 98K Update 1:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Tuesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,662,302 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,223 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 362,764 cases and 29,229 deaths and New Jersey with 155,092 cases and 11,147 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,271 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,416, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 112,017. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 51,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 96,400 cases, resulting in 3,769 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,925 cases, resulting in 5,146 deaths • Texas: 56,409 cases, resulting in 1,533 deaths • Michigan: 54,881 cases, resulting in 5,241 deaths • Florida: 51,746 cases, resulting in 2,252 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases; Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 13,458; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,178 and Kansas with 9,125; Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Nevada and New Mexico each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The FBI is investigating after video surfaced early Tuesday that appeared to show a police officer holding a knee against a man’s neck as he struggled to breathe shortly before he was pronounced dead at a hospital. The 10-minute video was caught by Darnella Frazier, who was on her way to meet with friends Monday night when she saw a man on the ground near a police cruiser and began to record, The Washington Post reported. In the video, later posted on Facebook, the man on the ground can be heard shouting that he can't breathe. “Don’t kill me!” he said, according to the Post. In a news briefing early Tuesday with police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the officer seen in the video with his knee to the man’s neck “failed in the most basic human sense,” according to KARE. 'For five minutes we watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a black man,' he said. 'For five minutes.' Police said they were called around 8 p.m. Monday to a report of a forgery in progress on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. Officers who responded found a man in his 40s who was believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police said officers ordered him to step away from his car and that afterward he “physically resisted officers.” 'Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,' police said in a statement released after the incident. 'Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.' In video of the incident, bystanders can be heard questioning officers’ treatment of the man. “He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” a bystander tells one of the two responding officers in the video, according to WCCO. “You’re (expletive) stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” The video shows when the man on the ground appears to lose consciousness. “Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth … that he should be with us this morning,” Frey said Tuesday, according to KARE. The two officers who responded to the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave as authorities investigate, according to WCCO. Neither the officers nor the man who died were identified.
  • Washington Insider Jamie Dupree first reported over the weekend that the President had raised the possibility of moving the GOP convention from North Carolina. Then Vice President Mike Pence floated Florida, Georgia and Texas as possible second choices.  And Politico reports that Jacksonville could make a pitch to serve as host.  Mayor Lenny Curry told Playbook that he’s interested in the convention and that his city has already shown it is ready, according to reporters Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon.  Meantime, Jamie Dupree reports that Democrats still haven’t figured out what they’re doing in Milwaukee in August. 
  • A woman apologized for calling the police on a black man Monday after the two argued about her unleashed dog in New York City’s Central Park. Part of the confrontation between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper -- who are not related -- was recorded on Christian Cooper’s cellphone in a wooded area of Central Park known as the Ramble, CNN reported. He posted the video on Facebook. His sister, Melody Cooper, also posted the encounter on Twitter. “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” Amy Cooper, who is white. told CNN. She added that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.” The Ramble is a wildlife habitat where dogs tend to disturb birds, which is why Christian Cooper commented about the unleashed dog to Amy Cooper, WABC reported. Dogs are supposed to be leashed in that area of Central Park, according to the park’s website. “She was actually standing right next to the sign that says dogs in the Ramble have to be leashed at all times,” Christian Cooper told the television station. As Christian Cooper began recording, Amy Cooper asked him to stop and approached the man, WPIX reported. “I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy Cooper is heard in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” ”My thinking was, I can sort of capitulate to this racial intimidation, or I could just do what I’m doing and continue recording,' Christian Cooper told WABC. As Christian Cooper continued to record the exchange, Amy Cooper is shown making a telephone call. “There is an African American man. I am in Central Park,” she said as she struggles to control the dog. 'He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. ... I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately.” Police responded to the park after the 8:10 a.m. call, officials told WPIX. “Upon arrival, police determined two individuals had engaged in a verbal dispute,” an NYPD spokesperson told the television station. “There were no arrests or summonses issued and both parties went on their way.” Amy Cooper surrendered the dog to the shelter where he had been adopted from while the dispute is being investigated, according to  Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. “The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health,” the post stated. “I think I was just scared,” Amy Cooper told CNN, adding that her “entire life is being destroyed right now.” “When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening,' she told the network. 'It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.” Amy Cooper has been placed on administrative leave by her employer, investment company Franklin Templeton. “We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave,” the company’s statement read. New York City Councilman Mark Levine called the incident “disgusting.” “Filling a false police report is a crime,” he tweeted. “Being racist is reprehensible. There needs to be accountability for this.”

The Latest News Videos