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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

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Rev. Nicolás Sánchez is seen on his iPhone used to livestream Easter Vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Hollywood, Calif., which was closed under the state’s coronavirus lockdown order.

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California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest round of modifications to the state’s stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The new guidelines for “places of worship and providers of religious services and cultural ceremonies” stipulate religious centers must limit attendance to 100 persons or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says places of worship can resume in-person services pending county approval. Attendance will be limited to fewer than 100 or 25% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

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The guidelines recommend against passing collection plates and baskets or sharing other communal religious objects, and urge worshipers to refrain from singing or performing group recitations because of the “increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets.”

The state also requires religious leaders to ensure more than six feet of physical distancing among congregants.

“Congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation, should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing,” state the CDPH guidelines.

Reopenings must be approved by each county’s public health department before going into effect. Additionally, county officials can add their own rules and restrictions. The state will reevaluate the guidelines after 21 days.

Worship services were temporarily halted and non-essential retail stores have been closed throughout most of the state since March 19, under Newsom’s initial order, though some rural counties received permission to begin partial reopening earlier this month.

Now, the CDPH has cleared the way for stores across the state to begin making sales again. The state’s retail guidelines do not require but “strongly” recommend employee screenings, face coverings and social distancing.

Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Newsom’s order banning in-person religious services in a challenge brought by South Bay Pentecostal Church. The church filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court Sunday.

President Trump has called on places of worship to reopen and has said he will “override” governors who refuse to do so, though it’s not clear he has such authority.

Some of California’s largest counties, including Los Angeles and several in the San Francisco Bay Area, have yet to approve the reopening of either worship services or in-store retail.

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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden depart after placing a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park on Monday.

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden depart after placing a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park on Monday.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made an unannounced visit to the Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Del., on Monday.

It’s the first time Biden has left the area around his home in Wilmington, since mid-March when he began self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He and his wife Jill Biden, both wearing black masks, placed a wreath before a memorial wall commemorating war veterans from Delaware and New Jersey.

“Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made. Never, ever, forget,” Biden said before leaving the wall.

President Trump also honored service members at two events Monday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Trump has been critical of Biden’s decision to remain in self-isolation at his home in Wilmington. Biden canceled in-person campaign events. Over the last two months, Biden has held events virtually with supporters, including fundraisers, and has done a number of television interviews from his home.

In response to a question about being out in public on Memorial Day, Biden said, “It feels good to be out of my house.”

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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was ordered to respond to the suit filed by Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey by Thursday. Instead, he moved the case to federal district court.

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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was ordered to respond to the suit filed by Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey by Thursday. Instead, he moved the case to federal district court.

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The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit challenging the Illinois governor’s stay-at-home order. The legal maneuver marks the first time the U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on state level COVID-19 policies that are unrelated to religious matters.

The department on Friday filed a statement of interest in the case against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, saying the protective coronavirus measures in place exceed the limits of his office.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor of Illinois has, over the past two months, sought to rely on authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to impose sweeping limitations on nearly all aspects of life for citizens of Illinois, significantly impairing in some instances their ability to maintain their economic livelihoods,” the department said in a statement.

The government is siding with Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey who filed the initial suit in state court earlier this month. He argued that Pritzker’s executive order violates a 30-day limit on the governor’s emergency powers put in place by the state legislature.

Pritzker was ordered to respond to Bailey’s motion for summary judgement by Thursday. But instead, he removed the case to federal district court.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said Pritzker “owes it to the people of Illinois to allow his state’s courts to adjudicate the question of whether Illinois law authorizes orders he issued to respond to COVID-19.”

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Expedition To Salvage Titanic’s Wireless Telegraph Gets The Go-Ahead : NPR

A judge in Virginia has ruled that a salvage company may cut into the remains of the Titanic to retrieve the ship’s wireless telegraph machine. Artifacts from the sunken vessel are sit on shelves at a storage facility in Atlanta in this Feb. 18 photo.

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A judge in Virginia has ruled that a salvage company may cut into the remains of the Titanic to retrieve the ship’s wireless telegraph machine. Artifacts from the sunken vessel are sit on shelves at a storage facility in Atlanta in this Feb. 18 photo.

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In the final hours it took the R.M.S. Titanic to sink, wireless telegraph operators issued a series of increasingly frantic messages calling for rescue.

They went from detailed to desperate.

The last transmission — issued just a few minutes before the “unsinkable” ship disappeared below the surface of the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg — was just five words: “Come quick. Engine room nearly full.”

The messages offer a poignant record of the final moments of chaos and tragedy aboard the Titanic in April 1912.

And this week a federal judge ruled that the wireless telegraph set may be recovered from the wreckage.

U.S. Judge Rebecca Smith said retrieval of the Edwardian technology — the most advanced of its time — “will contribute to the legacy left by the indelible loss of the Titanic, those who survived, and those who gave their lives in the sinking,” the Associated Press reported.

The decision is a victory for RMS Titanic Inc., a private company with exclusive rights to salvage artifacts from the ship. It has been waging a decades-long legal battle to gain the right to extract the equipment and other artifacts from the ship.

In 2000, an earlier judge denied the company permission to cut into the shipwreck or detach any part of it. But Smith appeared swayed by RMST’s argument that remnants of the luxurious vessel are rapidly deteriorating.

“While many items that remain in and around the Titanic wreckage have the ability to enlighten generations on the lives of its passengers, only one item holds the story of all of the survivors,” Bretton Hunchak, president of the company said in a statement on Facebook.

He added that the system “remains an unsung hero, responsible for countless generations of families that exist only because the radio cried out on behalf of their ancestors. For that reason, we must recover this incredible piece of history, to rescue the radio that saved 705 lives from being taken from the world that fateful night.”

Many archeologists and preservationists oppose the project, saying it desecrates what is a grave for the 1,500 crew and passengers who died on the ship’s maiden voyage.

RMST has two working plans for retrieving the telegraph. The first would involve using a remotely operated vehicle to enter Titanic through a skylight over the room where the machine is held. The second would require cutting a hole into the hull.

Smith’s Monday decision includes some conditions. Most notably that the court must approve the company’s funding plan “to ensure that RMST not only has the money to raise the artifacts, but also to conserve and document them,” according to National Geographic.

After years of financial strife, the salvage company recently emerged from bankruptcy and is under new ownership.

RMST is planning the expedition to Titanic this summer.

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Johnson & Johnson Stops Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder In U.S. And Canada : NPR

J&J said it will discontinue selling talcum-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada.

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J&J said it will discontinue selling talcum-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada.

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Johnson & Johnson will stop selling talcum-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada after being ordered to pay out billions of dollars in lost legal battles over claims the product causes cancer.

The company made the announcement Tuesday. It denied allegations that the powder is responsible for health problems.

“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” J&J said in a statement.

Separate investigations by Reuters and The New York Times in December 2018 revealed documents showing J&J fretted for decades that small amounts of asbestos lurked in its baby powder.

“From at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public,” Reuters reported.

Asbestos can occur naturally underground near talc. It becomes harmful when it breaks down and lodges in the lung tissue, possibly leading to diseases including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Company leaders called the news reports “false and inflammatory.” And on Tuesday, they reiterated denials of the veracity of such claims:

“Decades of scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of our product. We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the Company in the courtroom. All verdicts against the Company that have been through the appeals process have been overturned.”

In 2018, a St. Louis jury ordered J&J to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families who say asbestos the powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. Last year, a woman in California who says Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused her to develop mesothelioma was awarded $29 million.

The company is appealing the decisions.

J&J faces more than 16,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide, Reuters reported.

The company’s big moneymakers are no longer its lines of household medicine cabinet brands. “Fully half of its revenue now comes from pharmaceuticals, used to treat everything from depression to blood clots,” NPR’s Scott Horsley reported.

That has opened up the company to a variety of other massive lawsuits over its role in the nation’s opioid crisis.

Oklahoma, which was the first to take Johnson & Johnson to court in such a case, accused the company of creating a “public nuisance” by oversupplying prescription painkillers.

The state won the case and was eventually awarded $465 million. (The judge had initially ordered a $572 million payout in error.)

Stores around the country and in Canada will continue to sell whatever remaining inventory of baby powder remains on their shelves, the company said. Additionally, cornstarch-based Johnson’s Baby Powder will remain available in North America.

Both types of the powder will continue to be sold in other countries around the world “where there there is significantly higher consumer demand for the product.”

J&J is one of a handful of companies working with the National Institutes of Health to develop potential treatment options for the coronavirus pandemic and a vaccine for COVID-19.

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Beatles Photographer Astrid Kirchherr Dies At 81 : NPR

Ringo Starr and Astrid Kirchherr in an undated photo.

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Ringo Starr and Astrid Kirchherr in an undated photo.

Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns

Before they became world-famous mop-top icons, the Beatles looked like a bunch of greasers. And photographer Astrid Kirchherr is often credited as the first to capture the band’s fashion evolution as well as influencing their new direction.

Kirchherr, who met the group after a 1960 show in Hamburg, Germany, died on Wednesday at the age of 81, after a short illness, German news outlets reported.

“Intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting friend to many,” Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn tweeted. “Her gift to the Beatles was immeasurable,” Lewisohn wrote, adding that she’d died “a few days before turning 82.”

Kirchherr, born in 1938, was about 22 when she and her then-boyfriend Klaus Voorman went to see a moderately popular band from Liverpool play a dark, filthy, not-quite-right-for-proper-ladies club in her hometown of Hamburg.

“It took him a couple of days to convince me to go with him to see the boys, because Reeperbahn is not a place where young ladies in the ’50s or ’60s were to be seen … it was not a nice place,” she told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 2008.

“When I went down the stairs and looked at the stage, I was just amazed how beautiful these boys looked. And being a photographer then, it was a photographer’s dream.”

At the time, the Beatles consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, drummer Pete Best, and bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. She befriended the group after the show and somehow convinced them to let her start shooting them. Within a few months Kirchherr and Sutcliffe had fallen in love and by November 1960 the couple was engaged.

In fact, Sutcliffe who was also a painter, quit the band to live with Kirchherr and her mother and attend art school in Hamburg. He died of a brain hemorrhage in April 1962 before they could get married. He was only 21.

“He was, and still is, the love of my life,” Kirchherr said. Their relationship is the focus of the 1994 film Backbeat, about the Beatles’ pre-record-deal days in Germany.

Part of the Kirchherr-Beatles legend is that she was the first to give Sutcliffe the famous mop-top haircut, and that the others eventually followed. “Well, my boyfriend, Klaus, had a big problem because his ears used to stick out and then I had the idea to just grow the hair over them, which he then did and it looked absolutely beautiful,” she said in that 2008 interview. “So when the boys saw Klaus, Stuart was the first one who said, oh, I would like to have that hairstyle.”

Many of the early black and white photos she took of the band are an integral part of the collective photographic memory of the band, and the 1960s as a whole.

Her photographic work also garnered worldwide attention; she had exhibitions in Japan, Australia, the United States and Great Britain. Even after Sutcliffe’s death, she remained an artistic collaborator with the Beatles — Kirchherr was a set photographer on their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night.

And in 1968, George Harrison persuaded Kirchherr to shoot a session for his solo project Wonderwall Music. It is her portrait of him that is printed on the inside of the album. It is one of the last known pictures Kirchherr took — she eventually gave up photography for interior design because, as she said, “I wasn’t sure if I’m really good or is it just the Beatles that made me, sort of in a way, famous? And I wasn’t sure anymore if I’m good or not so I just gave it up.”

“Absolutely stunned to hear the news of Astrid passing,” former Beatles drummer Pete Best wrote on Twitter.

Best added: “God bless you love. We shared some wonderful memories and the most amazing fun times.”



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Researcher Qing Wang Arrested, Allegedly Failed To Disclose China Ties : NPR

The FBI claims Dr. Qing Wang received more than $3.6 million in grants from the NIH while also collecting money for the same research from the Chinese government.

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The FBI claims Dr. Qing Wang received more than $3.6 million in grants from the NIH while also collecting money for the same research from the Chinese government.

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A former Cleveland Clinic Foundation doctor was arrested Wednesday and appeared in court on Thursday on charges of wire fraud and making false claims to obtain millions in federal grant funding.

It is the latest move in a federal crackdown on alleged participants in China’s Thousand Talents Plan. The government believes the program may recruit U.S.-based scientists and researchers to steal intellectual property and scientific advances paid for with American funding.

The FBI claims Qing Wang, a U.S. citizen born in China, lied to receive more than $3.6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health while also collecting money for the same research from the Chinese government.

“This is not a case of simple omission,” FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said in a statement.

Wang knowingly withheld information that he was employed and served as Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, according to Smith.

“Dr. Wang deliberately failed to disclose his Chinese grants and foreign positions and even engaged in a pervasive pattern of fraud to avoid criminal culpability,” Smith said.

Had he revealed the connection, the FBI and Department of Justice say the doctor and his research group at the clinic would have been denied the NIH grants.

Officials at the Cleveland Clinic said Wang was fired after his ties to China were uncovered.

“Cleveland Clinic has cooperated fully with the NIH and with federal law enforcement as they conducted their own investigations into these same subjects and will continue to do so,” it said in a statement.

Wang’s work is dedicated to molecular medicine and the genetics of cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

As a result of his alleged participation in the Thousand Talents Plan, the Justice Department asserts Wang received $3 million in research support to improve operations at Huazhong University. In addition to a salary, he allegedly benefited from “free travel and lodging for his trips to China, to include a three-bedroom apartment on campus for his personal use.”

The question of whether or not Wang and other academics are serving as spies for the Chinese government is one of the issues at the heart of President Trump’s trade war with China.

The doctor’s arrest comes just days after Dr. Xiao-Jiang Li, a former Emory University professor, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for failing to report foreign income from Chinese universities on his tax returns. Li is also accused of participating in the TTP.

The same day, a professor from the University of Arkansas, Dr. Simon Saw-Teong Ang, was arrested on charges of wire fraud for allegedly failing to disclose his ties to the Chinese government despite being required to do so as a recipient of grant money from NASA.

Robert Wells, acting assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, said the cases demonstrate “Chinese government-supported talent plans continue to encourage people, regardless of nationality, to commit crimes, such as fraud to obtain U.S. taxpayer-funded research.”

“The FBI and our partners will continue to rigorously investigate these illegal activities to protect our government, educational, and research institutions,” Wells added.

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Family Asks Houston Police Not To Release Fatal Shooting Video Of Gospel Singer : NPR

Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said Adrian Mereadis’ family has requested that the footage capturing his death be kept out of public view.

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Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said Adrian Mereadis’ family has requested that the footage capturing his death be kept out of public view.

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After days of public demands for access, the Houston Police Department announced it will not release video of the deadly shooting of a black man.

Adrian Medearis, a 48-year-old gospel singer and choir director, was shot multiple times by a police officer in what started off as a speeding traffic stop last Friday. The routine violation turned into a suspected drunken driving offense before quickly escalating into a deadly scuffle, according to Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo.

For days the victim’s family said they had not been allowed to see video captured by the officer’s body camera or the dashboard footage.

But on Wednesday, Acevedo said that had changed.

“We met with Mr. Medearis’ family yesterday and reviewed the video evidence with them,” Acevedo said on Twitter.

“At the end of our meeting, the family asked @houstonpolice to not release the videos, & we will honor their request.”

The killing has incensed various communities across Texas’ Harris County as it comes on the heels of another officer-involved shooting of a 27-year-old man named Nicolas Chavez, who is believed to have had a mental illness.

The back-to-back shootings — Chavez’s killing occurred on April 21 — have raised questions about proper officer training and the use of excessive force by the police.

In a Tuesday rally, members of the Greater Houston Coalition For Justice said communities expect the devastating incidents will help shine a light on the department’s practices.

“We want transparency,” Isidro Garza, one of the group’s board members, said.

Garza added that those in the organization believe the department and Chief Acevedo often “hide behind the excuse, ‘It’s under investigation’ ” to avoid releasing unflattering or damning information in cases often involving poor people and people of color.

In the case of Medearis, Garza said, the police “need to share the video with the family so they can have some peace.”

He is quick to note that the request is not a condemnation of the department but rather an effort to examine the type of culture that exists within the department.

Medearis was a local musician who directed the gospel choir at Evangelist Temple Church of God In Christ, family members told Houston Public Media. He was formerly director for the Prairie View A&M University Baptist Student Movement gospel choir and founder of God’s Anointed People, a contemporary gospel group. He also performed with choirs at other churches.

In a news conference Monday, Acevedo shared some details about the brief but violent incident, saying that the struggle between officer J. Ramos and Medearis lasted about 2 ½ minutes.

For a moment, it appeared as if Medearis had been subdued but when Ramos tried to call for backup, he lost control of Medearis and the fight continued.

“At that point, the suspect, Mr. Medearis, actually was able to flip the officer off of him, gain a position of advantage on the officer, on top of the officer,” he recounted.

“They continued the struggle. At one point Mr. Medearis grabbed the officer’s Taser that was on the ground … and as they were struggling, the officer saw that Mr. Medearis had armed himself with a Taser, drew his service pistol, started creating space, and then Mr. Medearis when he aimed it at him, the officer discharged four rounds.”

Officials said Medearis was taken to a hospital, where he died.

“Not everybody wants their loved one to be in cyberspace for the rest of eternity and for their last minute on earth to be public,” Acevedo said.



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Aimee Stephens, Transgender Woman At Center Of Major Civil Rights Case, Dies At 59 : NPR

Aimee Stephens’ Supreme Court case is over the question of whether employers can fire workers for being transgender. “We’re not asking for anything special. We’re just asking to be treated like other people are,” Stephens told The Detroit News last year.

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Aimee Stephens’ Supreme Court case is over the question of whether employers can fire workers for being transgender. “We’re not asking for anything special. We’re just asking to be treated like other people are,” Stephens told The Detroit News last year.

Paul Sancya/AP

Aimee Stephens, the transgender woman at the center of a major employment rights case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, died in Detroit on Tuesday at age 59.

Stephens was the first transgender person whose civil rights case was heard by the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented her. Her case concerns the question of whether federal law prohibiting employment discrimination applies to transgender employees.

“Aimee didn’t set out to be a hero and a trailblazer, but she is one,” the ACLU said in a tweet confirming her death. “We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to justice for all people, and her dedication to the trans community.”

After years of working as an embalmer and funeral home director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Livonia, Mich., Stephens informed her boss in 2013 that she was transitioning from male to female. She had been living as a transgender woman outside of work, and planned to follow the company’s dress code for women on the job. A short time later, Stephens was fired.

Backed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she sued her former employer. In 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the funeral home owners, saying that LGBTQ people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states employers cannot fire, refuse to hire or otherwise penalize people because of their sex.

The funeral home owners appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the civil rights laws were not intended to protect gay and transgender people. Additionally, they said, the funeral home was within its rights to insist that Stephens adhere to its dress code for male employees during work hours.

The case currently before the high court asks whether it is illegal sex discrimination, under federal civil rights statutes, to fire someone because they are transgender. The Supreme Court started hearing the case last year and its decision is expected by July.

Stephens, who suffered from kidney disease, was in the end stage of renal failure in recent weeks. She died in hospice care at home with her wife Donna Stephens by her side, the ACLU said.

According to a GoFundMe account asking for financial assistance to cover Stephens’ funeral costs and end-of-life care, being fired from her job in 2013 resulted in the loss of adequate health care coverage, “years of lost income” and “immediate financial strain, leading her spouse Donna to take on several jobs.”

“Aimee Stephens just wanted to continue to do the job she was hired to do, that she was good at, and that she was prepared to continue while living as her true gender,” Brian Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement.

“Her fight will continue as we strive for equality for all, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In an interview last year with The Detroit News, Stephens said she was optimistic about the outcome of the pending Supreme Court case.

“I believe in what I’m doing. I’ve stood up for myself to make sure that it happens. That’s what keeps me going,” she said.

“If you’re part of the human race, which we all are, we all deserve the same basic rights. We’re not asking for anything special. We’re just asking to be treated like other people are.”



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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

“It was certainly expected that nursing homes would be hit but it was not inevitable that they’d be hit this hard,” Richard Mollot, executive director of New York-based Long Term Care Community Coalition, told NPR.

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“It was certainly expected that nursing homes would be hit but it was not inevitable that they’d be hit this hard,” Richard Mollot, executive director of New York-based Long Term Care Community Coalition, told NPR.

John Minchillo/AP

Coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities have surpassed a grim threshold in much of the country, accounting for at least a third of the deaths in 26 states and more than half in 14 of those.

The data, which was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports tallies from a variety of care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care residences, and other skilled nursing care settings. However, it does not break out those categories separately.

The report comes as states prepared to meet a federal reporting deadline Friday.

The striking figures offer only a partial glimpse of the devastating impact of the virus on patients, residents and staff members ahead of the new mandate that requires officials to disclose coronavirus cases and deaths in nursing homes and long-term living residences to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Priya Chidambaram, a policy analyst with the foundation, was part of the research team compiling information from state dashboards, official statements and other sources. She called the latest statistics “shocking.”

“It does really make you think about what the true national numbers will be when we eventually do get data from all 50 states,” Chidambaram said.

She expects that skilled nursing facilities will continue to be hot spots for the spread of the virus now that 18 states that have so far declined to publicly report data, hand information over to the CDC.

According to the report, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania reported the highest share of coronavirus deaths — 72% and 70% respectively.

However, the total deaths behind those ratios vary widely from state to state. In the case of New Hampshire, 66 of 114 total deaths occurred in long-term care facilities. Whereas, in Pennsylvania the slightly lower percentage represents a much greater death toll — 2,355 of 3,364 deaths.

“It is not necessarily correlated to the challenges that states might be facing in long-term care facilities,” Chidambaram said. One theory is that those residences are simply conducting more thorough testing than is being done among the general public.

New York has the highest number of overall deaths related to COVID-19 in the country. It also has the highest death rate in what Kaiser Family Foundation describes as long-term care facilities.

As of Wednesday, the foundation reported 5,215 people died from the virus in long-term care facilities in New York — 20% of the state’s total number of dead. New Jersey had the second-highest rate with 4,556 reported cases in their facilities, 53% of the state’s total death toll.

Until now, most states volunteered a patchwork of metrics at their own discretion. But the new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services demands that states report coronavirus-related information to the CDC on a weekly basis. It also requires states to divulge additional data, including Personal Protective Equipment and hand hygiene supplies, resident access to testing, and staffing shortages.

Officials with the American Health Care Association, the trade organization for most nursing homes, has called the outbreak “devastating.” The group urged the federal government to prioritize testing to all residents and caregivers of nursing homes and assisted living communities, regardless of symptoms.

“Without expanded testing, it is virtually impossible for us to know who in our facilities, whether they are residents or caregivers, are COVID positive – making it extremely difficult to stop the spread of the virus,” officials said in a letter this week.

Increased testing may show where hot spots are, but they still don’t address the underlying causes fueling the spread of coronavirus.

“It was certainly expected that nursing homes would be hit but it was not inevitable that they’d be hit this hard,” Richard Mollot, of the executive director of New York-based Long Term Care Community Coalition, said. The group advocates for greater oversight of skilled nursing facilities.

“I’m afraid what we’re seeing now is the failure to ensure that nursing homes are providing appropriate staffing,” Mollot said, “that they are undertaking effective and appropriate measures to control infections and prevent infections in their facilities.”

States have been granted a two-week grace period to submit their data. The CDC expects to make the information available sometime before the end of the month.

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