Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

Rep. Cunningham the fourth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Cunningham announced Friday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“While I otherwise feel fine, since March 17th I have been unable to smell or taste, which I learned this week is a potential symptom of COVID-19,” the South Carolina Democrat said in a statement.

Cunningham was tested Thursday and got his results Friday, he said, adding him to a growing list of lawmakers who have been personally infected or affected by the virus.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah and Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have also said they have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Other members are distancing themselves because they have symptoms or had contact with someone who tested positive. At least 26 members of the House and Senate are still under self-quarantine, and 18 more have completed a period of self-isolation, based on announcements and responses from their offices.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune boarded a South Dakota-bound chartered flight Wednesday evening wearing a surgical mask after waking up that morning feeling ill, his spokesman Ryan Wrasse said.

On Thursday, Wrasse said Thune was at home, “where he continues to monitor his symptoms. His condition has improved, and he has been in touch with his personal physician again today.”

Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch revealed Thursday that he had been self-quarantining since the previous weekend after his son returned from Spain with a symptom of the COVID-19 illness, the Miami Herald reported.

—CQ-Roll Call


Pennsylvania moves primaries to June 2 amid coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania became the latest state to postpone primary elections, moving the state’s presidential and congressional primaries from April 28 to June 2.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf made the move official Friday, signing a bill moving the primary date into law. The measure passed the state legislature on Thursday.

“Delaying this year’s primary election as several other states have done is in the best interests of voters, poll workers and county election officials,” Wolf said in a statement.

“I commend the General Assembly for acting quickly on this critical legislation. The Department of State will continue to work with local election officials to ensure Pennsylvania has a fair and accessible election.”

Pennsylvania, which President Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016, will be a key state in the presidential race. It’s also the home of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters.

Pennsylvania will also have competitive House races, and the delayed primary means the general election matchups won’t be known until June. Republicans and Democrats are each defending two competitive House seats in 2020.

Pennsylvania is the 14th state to postpone elections amid the crisis.

—CQ-Roll Call


Michigan students returning to classrooms this school year ‘very unlikely,’ governor says

DETROIT — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday morning that it’s “very unlikely” Michigan students will return to classrooms this school year.

“We are working diligently to come up with a plan to meet the needs of our kids,” Whitmer said during an interview on WWJ Newsradio. “Anyone who’s watching globally what’s happening with this pandemic probably knows it’s not going to be this year.”

The statement comes as a growing number of educators pressed Whitmer, state lawmakers and State Superintendent Michael Rice for answers on how the school year will play out.

In a letter Wednesday, educators called on state officials “to immediately provide clarity to Michiganders on what’s next for our children. Further delay creates uncertainty for countless communities across our state.”

The letter was sent on behalf of the Michigan Association of School Boards as well as associations representing school superintendents and intermediate school districts.

Asked at a news conference Thursday when educators could expect a plan, Whitmer said it would likely come “in the next week or so.”

“The powers of the executive office are immense, especially in times like these,” Whitmer said. “But I cannot unilaterally address the issues around the education of our kids. So we are working. We’ve already had a lot of meetings with the Legislature, with the Michigan Department of Education, with our experts on the front line, superintendents and teachers, to make sure that we have a thoughtful solution.”

—Detroit Free Press


San Diego fund to help unauthorized immigrants out of work due to pandemic

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego fund is ready to start granting money to immigrants who have lost work during the coronavirus pandemic, prioritizing those who would not be eligible for other types of aid.

Many immigrants work in the hospitality industry and similar sectors that have been widely impacted by the statewide stay-at-home order, which has shut down San Diego for more than week already. The majority of those jobs do not offer paid time off or support to workers whose hours are cut or whose positions disappear in layoffs.

Some immigrant workers are eligible to receive unemployment or other aid, but others, particularly unauthorized immigrants, are not.

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium hopes to address that gap with new $500 grants that the organization announced Friday morning.

“When the most vulnerable in our community are at risk, our whole community is at risk,” said Lilian Serrano, chair of the organization. “Without access to unemployment and other cash assistance benefits, many immigrant families are left without resources to cover their basic needs.”

An immigrant can receive the money from the San Diego Immigrant Relief Fund once, and priority will be given to families whose members have not yet received a grant.

—The San Diego Union-Tribune