A suspect was apprehended after killing three people and injuring one other Tuesday in downtown Fresno, California, in what authorities are calling “a random act of violence.” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference the suspect, who was identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, allegedly shot and killed three people in the city’s downtown area, including a Pacific Gas & Electric employee and two others outside a Catholic Charities facility. Muhammad, who police say yelled “God is great” in Arabic before he was apprehended, was wanted by police on suspicion of fatally shooting a security guard outside a Fresno hotel last week. Dyer added the suspect’s Facebook page indicated “he does not like white people,” and also included “anti-government sentiments.” Authorities did not label the incident a hate crime, and said it is too soon to determine if it was an act of terrorism. Muhammad is believed to have acted alone and faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
This story is developing and we will update it as we learn more.
Pedro Hernandez Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Etan Patz Murder Case
Pedro Hernandez was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Tuesday for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, marking an end to the infamous case that began nearly four decades ago. Hernandez was convicted by a New York jury in February at the end of the case’s second trial. The first, which took place in 2015, ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. Hernandez confessed in 2012 that he lured Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked in 1979 and strangled him; Hernadez’s lawyers argued the confession was a product of police manipulation and that Hernandez is mentally ill. Patz, whose body was never found, was one of the first missing children to ever be pictured on a milk carton. The anniversary of his disappearance has since been commemorated as National Missing Children’s Day.
United Airlines CEO: No One Will Be Fired Over Dragging Incident
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday no one would be fired from the airline over last week’s incident in which a passenger was dragged off what was thought to be an overbooked flight. The airlines’s executives added it was too soon to tell how the incident has affected ticket sales. Video of the incident, which showed police forcibly drag the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, off his seat and down the plane’s aisle, generated global backlash against the airline and wiped nearly $1 billion off United Continental Holdings Inc’s value. Munoz condemned the event as a “system failure” and vowed the airline would no longer use law enforcement to remove passengers who are “booked, paid, seated.” The controversy prompted other airlines to revisit their policies, as well. Delta Airlines announced Friday it would increase its compensation to passengers removed from overbooked flights from $1,350 to $9,950, and American Airlines said it would no longer permit the removal of passengers who have already boarded the plane.
Police Say Facebook-Murder Suspect Steve Stephens Found Dead
Updated at 1:23 p.m.
Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday that Steve Stephens, the man authorities in Cleveland say shot and killed a 74-year-old man and uploaded video of the slaying to Facebook, killed himself in Erie County.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams thanked the public for their help in finding Stephens, noting authorities had 400 tips on his whereabouts. He also warned of using social media to post videos of violence. “We can’t do this in this country,” Williams said in a news conference. “I think the people on social media kind of know the power and the harm it can do.” The video remained on Facebook for more than two hours before it was removed by the social-networking site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
Stephens made several Facebook posts before the shooting, saying he’d lost all his money gambling and that he was upset with his girlfriend. He also claimed to have committed a dozen other murders, though police have not verified if that is true. The killing happened Sunday afternoon, and the video, as described byThe Washington Post, shows Stephens approach a man, then ask him to repeat the name of his girlfriend. The man does so, then Stephens says, “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.” Stephens then raises the gun and fires, according to the Post. The victim was identified as Robert Godwin Sr., and police said there was no indication the men knew each other. Authorities say they believe Stephens left the state, and they cautioned residents in Pennsylvania and New York that he is armed and dangerous. Stephens was last seen in a white Ford Fusion.
Following the killing, Facebook said it needed to respond to such videos more quickly. “We know we need to do better,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations, said Monday in a blog post. As early as this morning, Stephens’s whereabouts were unknown. Rumors that Stephens had been spotted in other cities and as far afield as Texas were dismissed by authorities in those places. This is not the first time a crime has been committed and video of it found on Facebook.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined early Tuesday to vacate the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling halting a scheduled execution from taking place. The high court’s ruling, which came just minutes before the death warrant of 54-year-old inmate Don Davis expired, prevented the state of Arkansas from conducting the first of eight lethal injections scheduled to take place this month, as well as the first execution to take place in the state since 2005. The court provided no explanation for the denial, and no dissents were recorded. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but added the state “will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families.” As Garrett Epps noted, the state’s decision to schedule eight executions over the span of just 11 days—a rate the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors executions in the U.S., called “unprecedented”—correlates with the state’s supply of execution-drug midazolam that is set to expire at the end of the month.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Calls for New Elections on June 8
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early general election on June 8, a date that marks almost one year since the country voted to leave the European Union. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” May said, referring to the U.K.’s Parliament. Lawmakers will vote tomorrow on May’s call, and they are expected to approve early elections; elections were previously scheduled for 2020. While political opposition to Brexit remains high, polls still narrowly support the vote; more good news for May is that her Conservative party is comfortably ahead of most of its rivals.
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche.
A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?”
More young people in the South seem to be dying from COVID-19. Why?
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has gone from a novel, distant threat to an enemy besieging cities and towns across the world. The burden of COVID-19 and the economic upheaval wrought by the measures to contain it feel epochal. Humanity now has a common foe, and we will grow increasingly familiar with its face.
Yet plenty of this virus’s aspects remain unknown. The developing wisdom—earned the hard way in Wuhan, Washington, and Italy—has been that older people and sicker people are substantially more likely to suffer severe illness or die from COVID-19 than their younger, healthier counterparts. Older people are much more likely than young people to have lung disease, kidney disease, hypertension, or heart disease, and those conditions are more likely to transform a coronavirus infection into something nastier. But what happens when these assumptions don’t hold up, and the young people battling the pandemic share the same risks?
How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic.
Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET on April 4, 2020.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are now overthinking things they never used to think about at all. Can you go outside? What if you’re walking downwind of another person? What if you’re stuck waiting at a crosswalk and someone is there? What if you’re going for a run, and another runner is heading toward you, and the sidewalk is narrow? Suddenly, daily mundanities seem to demand strategy.
Much of this confusion stems from the shifting conversation around the pandemic. Thus far, the official line has been that the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, could be transmitted only through close contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces. But recently, news reports have suggested that the coronavirus can spread through the air. After 60 choir members in Washington State rehearsed together, 45 fell sick, even though no one seemed symptomatic at the time. Now people who were already feeling cooped up are worrying about going outside. Many state guidelines are ambiguous, and medical advice can muddy matters further. When the writer Deborah Copaken came down with COVID-19 symptoms, her doctor chided her for riding her bike through New York City a week earlier. Going outside in the city wasn’t safe, the physician implied, with “viral load everywhere.”
The Trump administration has just released the model for the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. We can expect a lot of back-and-forth about whether its mortality estimates are too high or low. And its wide range of possible outcomes is certainly confusing: What’s the right number? The answer is both difficult and simple. Here’s the difficult part: There is no right answer. But here’s the simple part: Right answers are not what epidemiological models are for.
Epidemiologists routinely turn to models to predict the progression of an infectious disease. Fighting public suspicion of these models is as old as modern epidemiology, which traces its origins back to John Snow’s famous cholera maps in 1854. Those maps proved, for the first time, that London’s terrible affliction was spreading through crystal-clear fresh water that came out of pumps, not the city’s foul-smelling air. Many people didn’t believe Snow, because they lived in a world without a clear understanding of germ theory and only the most rudimentary microscopes.
The coronavirus’s overwhelming toll on jobs and businesses has only just begun.
Editor’s Note:The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.
This is a tsunami, with a number of big waves dead ahead.”
Mark Zandi is not an epidemiologist, and he was not talking about the rapid spread of the coronavirus. He is the chief economist at Moody’s, an analyst highly regarded by both political parties, and generally not prone to hyperbole. Yet when I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, he immediately reached for the metaphor of a devastating natural disaster to describe the toll that the pandemic will take on American commerce—the businesses it will destroy, the jobs it will wipe out, the retirement nest eggs it will crack and shatter.
Michigan’s governor joins The Ticket to discuss her state’s coronavirus response and her relationship with President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump’s exchanges with Democratic politicians usually go something like this: He picks a petty fight, almost always lobbing a tweet with a low-grade schoolyard taunt. The politician he targeted makes some bland statement about not engaging, but slips in a few passive-aggressive comments to needle him back. Political reporters lap it up.
That’s what’s been playing out between Trump and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over the past week.
Except this time is different, Whitmer says. This time, Trump’s routine is going to lead to Americans dying.
While Trump is taking shots at her from the White House, Whitmer told me, “more people are going to get sick and more lives are going to be lost because we don’t have enough testing, because we don’t have enough [personal protective equipment], because there aren’t enough ventilators, because the national stockpile, I understand, is getting close to being depleted. And we’re not even close to meeting the needs of people that are already sick, and more and more are going to get sick.” This isn’t a normal political fight, she said. “There’s going to be a horrible cost.”
Widespread social-distancing measures have produced some jarring effects across land, air, and sea.
From inside her living room in London, Paula Koelemeijer can feel the world around her growing quieter.
Koelemeijer, a seismologist, has a miniature seismometer sitting on a concrete slab at the base of her first-floor fireplace. The apparatus, though smaller than a box of tissues, can sense all kinds of movement, from the rattle of trains on the tracks near Koelemeijer’s home to the waves of earthquakes rolling in from afar. Since the United Kingdom announced stricter social-distancing rules last month, telling residents not to leave their home except for essential reasons, the seismometer has registered a sharp decrease in the vibrations produced by human activity.
With fewer trains, buses, and people pounding the pavement, the usual hum of public life has vanished, and so has its dependable rhythms: Before the spread of COVID-19 shut down the city, Koelemeijer could plot the seismometer’s data and see the train schedule reflected in the spikes, down to the minute. Now, with fewer trains running, the spikes seem to come at random.
The shutdowns happened remarkably quickly, but the process of resuming our lives will be far more muddled.
Get your battle rhythm, I keep telling myself, as I put on my oversize sweatpants for the third day in a row. Staying inside, away from our offices, routines, and community, feels jarring even for those who, on a rational level, understand the need for extreme social distancing. The good side is having more family time. But everything seems upended, even to homeland-security professionals who argued for upending everything to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Just as seasickness abates once you can see the shore, the disruptions that the country is now experiencing would be easier to manage if we knew they would end soon. The community-isolation effort happened remarkably fast—within days, whole communities all but closed down, and earlier this week the federal government finally recommended the same. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the entire state of California to stay home “until further notice.” But the way the crisis ends will be far more muddled. There isn’t going to be one all-clear signal—and certainly not one anytime soon.
The greatest error that geopolitical analysts can make may be believing that the crisis will be over in three to four months.
At this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty prevails. The greatest error that geopolitical analysts can make may be believing that the crisis will be over in three to four months, as the world’s leaders have been implying. As documented in The Atlantic and elsewhere, public-health experts make a compelling case that COVID-19 could be with us in one way or another until a vaccine comes on the market or herd immunity is achieved—either of which could take 12 to 18 months, unless we get lucky with a cure or an effective treatment before then. A long crisis, which is more likely than not, could stretch the international order to its breaking point. Even after a vaccine is available, life will not go back to normal. COVID-19 was not a black swan and will not be the last pandemic. A nervous world will be permanently changed.
The coronavirus outbreak may last for a year or two, but some elements of pre-pandemic life will likely be won back in the meantime.
Updated at 4:40 ET on March 30, 2020.
The new coronavirus has brought American life to a near standstill, closing businesses, canceling large gatherings, and keeping people at home. All of those people must surely be wondering: When will things return to normal?
The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population—possibly 60 or 80 percent of people—is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person. That is the end goal, although no one knows exactly how long it will take to get there.
There are two realistic paths to achieving this “population-level immunity.” One is the development of a vaccine. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, surely killing many, but also leaving many others—those who contract the disease and then recover—immune. “They’re just Teflon at that point,” meaning they can’t get infected again and they won’t pass on the disease, explains Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine. Once enough people reach Teflon status—though we don’t yet know if recovering from the disease confers any immunity at all, let alone lifelong immunity—normalcy will be restored. (It may also turn out to be the case that people who are immune to the disease can still pass it on under certain circumstances.)*