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iStock/MattGush(NEW YORK) -- A Brooklyn man who allegedly coughed on FBI agents and told them he had novel coronavirus, after the agents said they had confronted him about hoarding and selling medical equipment, has been arrested, according to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors said 43-year-old Baruch Feldheim sought to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and equipment shortages at New York's hospitals to make medical workers pay inflated prices for surgical masks, medical gowns and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

On Sunday, FBI agents said they approached Feldheim at his home after observing several individuals walking away from his door with boxes that they believed contained medical equipment.

"After identifying themselves as FBI agents, they told Feldheim that they wanted to stay a distance away from him given concerns over the spread of Coronavirus," the DOJ said in a statement. "When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth."

Feldheim then told the agents he was infected with COVID-19, according to DOJ.

As a result, Feldheim was arrested and charged with assaulting a federal officer, as well as making false statements after prosecutors said he repeatedly lied about his possession and sale of the equipment. He has not yet made his initial appearance before a judge or entered a plea to the charges, and as of Monday evening did not have a lawyer listed on the district court's docket.

The arrest follows a nationwide campaign encouraged by the DOJ and FBI to crack down on those who may seek to use the current national emergency to hoard much-needed medical supplies and sell them at prices far above market value.

Agents accused Feldheim of doing so on multiple occasions.

According to the criminal complaint against him, Feldheim agreed to sell a New Jersey doctor "approximately 1,000 N95 masks" and other materials for $12,000, "an approximately 700 percent markup from the normal price," prosecutors said. When Feldheim told the doctor the location of the materials, the man went to a repair shop that held enough medical supplies "to outfit an entire hospital," the Justice Department said.

Agents also alleged in a separate instance that Feldheim offered to sell a nurse "a quantity of surgical gowns," and days later received a shipment from Canada containing "eight pallets of medical facemasks."

The Justice Department urges Americans who suspect coronavirus fraud, hoarding or price-gouging to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or e-mail

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/chapin31(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised alarms with President Trump Monday about 'incredible spikes" in coronavirus cases in Navajo Nation, warning that the virus could "wipe out" some tribal nations, according to a recording of a call between Trump and the nation's governors obtained by ABC News.

"I'm very worried, Mr. President," Governor Lujan Grisham said, as she followed up on a request she made to the Department of Defense last Wednesday for a 248-bed U.S. Army combat support hospital (CSH) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Grisham told Trump she had not yet received a response.

"We're seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we're going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities," Grisham said.

"The rate of infection, at least on the New Mexico side — although we've got several Arizona residents in our hospitals — we're seeing a much higher hospital rate, a much younger hospital rate, a much quicker go-right-to-the-vent rate for this population. And we're seeing doubling in every day-and-a-half," she said.

Wow, that's something," the president replied.

She added: "And it could wipe out those tribal nations."

"We're gonna get you that hospital as quickly as we can," Trump said, while directing others in the Situation Room to look into the problem and rush work on the hospital. "Boy, that’s too bad for the Navajo nation – I've been hearing that."

As of Sunday, there were at least 128 cases and 2 deaths reported on the reservation, which has a population of over 250,000 and spans three states, according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

The outbreak of the virus in the reservation is believed to have spread at an evangelical church rally in Chilchinbeto, Arizona, on March 7, according to a Los Angeles Times report. At least two Navajos have already died, the report said.

The Navajo Nation government declared a state of emergency on March 13, just one week later, before ultimately issuing a reservation-wide Shelter In Place order for all residents on March 20.

"In a short period of time, COVID-19 has arrived on the Navajo Nation and the number of cases are increasing at a high rate across the Nation," the order said. "The purpose of the closure is to allow the Navajo Nation as a whole to isolate and quarantine."

In her original request, Grisham wrote that the hospital was "urgently needed to support the State of New Mexico’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to overwhelm our existing medical treatment facilities and resources."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Eugeneonline(WASHINGTON) -- A new novel coronavirustest may make diagnosing COVID-19 as easy as the flu. The new point-of-care test, having just received an emergency-use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be able to deliver results in as little as five minutes, according to the manufacturer.

This test from medical device company Abbott, which begins shipping April 1, may soon be available at your local urgent care clinic.

"This is going to be the fastest molecular point-of-care test to date," said John Frels, Ph.D., Abbott’s vice president of research and development, in an interview with ABC News. "It generates a positive result in 5 minutes and negative results in 13 minutes."

President Donald Trump called the test “a whole new ballgame” and in a recent tweet, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, echoed these sentiments calling it "a game changer."

The test will run on the company’s existing ID NOW platform, a lightweight, portable machine around the size of a small toaster, which according to Abbott, is already the most widely available molecular point-of-care testing platform in the United States today and is used for illnesses like flu and strep. As a highly mobile platform, it can be used in a variety of healthcare settings, particularly physician offices and urgent care-type settings.

According to Frels, “what it's really going to be able to do is fill the void, which is rapid results where they’re needed for patients who need them the most.” Until this point, testing has been a fraught process in the U.S. -- with tests at first very difficult to come by and then results taking days. Testing has dramatically expanded since then, but results still take time.

The ID NOW machine can test samples one at a time. A health care provider would use a swab to take a sample from a sick patient's nose or throat and then mix the swab into a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its genetic material. The sample is then placed into the ID NOW instrument, which uses a special “isothermal technology" to replicate and amplify, if present in the sample, the small section of the virus’ genetic sequences in order to quickly detect whether a person is positive or negative for COVID-19, according to Frels.

Frels said that such a test will allow frontline health care workers to see a patient, quickly diagnose them and make immediate decisions regarding treatment and care, helping prevent further transmission of the virus to other people. "Diagnostics in general, stepping back from this, play into about 70% of therapeutic directional decisions. It’s difficult to know where to go unless you have a test result in front of you,” Frels said.

According to Adm. Brett Giror, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, there are about “18,000 of these little toaster-sized machines” across doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country. The company does not expect all 18,000 machines to run the test. Abbott will initially supply 50,000 tests a day, with the goal to ramp up test supply to over a million a month. According to the company, the cost of the test is expected to be comparable to the ID NOW flu test and will be covered by most insurance plans.

"This will fill a great need that is not being well served at this point,” said Frels.

With the ID NOW machines already widely available across the country, the infrastructure is already in place to allow for a smooth integration of the rapid COVID-19 test into the health care sphere, which may help speed up and broaden testing and more effectively curb the pandemic. Abbott is working with the White House to deploy the first batches of tests to urgent care clinics, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms in areas that are hardest hit.

Frels says that this test will "complement the other side of the equation,” referring to high volume, high throughput style COVID-19 diagnostic instruments, such as Abbott’s m2000 Real Time system, which received emergency use approval from the FDA last week. That system, which uses a standard molecular detection technology called PCR to detect COVID-19's genetic sequence in a sample, may take a number of hours to produce results, but can process more samples simultaneously (about 470 tests a day), making it suitable for large hospital settings with multiple patients who require testing.

Although the test has the potential to address the country’s testing shortage, healthcare workers still need personal protective equipment to protect themselves when administering these tests. This equipment, like masks, eye protection, and gowns, are still in short supply.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


L-R - Shelley Hack, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd -- Walt Disney Television via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the constantly scary headlines that are coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's no surprise people are using their time at home to seek comfort in old television favorites.

As previously reported, Hallmark Channel is running its popular Christmas movies now, while retro cable channel COZI TV tells ABC Audio that it's seen a spike in viewership.

In fact, COZI viewing has grown 24% over the past three weeks compared to the same period last year, according Meredith McGinn, the network's senior vice president.

"COZI TV's broadcast lineup has become comfort TV during these uncertain times," McGinn said. "As more and more viewers tune in, we look forward to welcoming them with feel-good family fun, filled with our iconic catalog of sitcoms, dramas and action series that will give families a much-needed reprieve."

One of those feel-good shows? The '70s classic Charlie's Angels, which airs weekday mornings at 9 AM Eastern time, and in a three-hour block on Saturdays.  The show, which inspired several films, follows three young women who work for a private detective firm run by Charles "Charlie" Townsend.

Cheryl Ladd played Kris Munroe on the show; her character was the little sister of Farrah Fawcett-Majors' character Jill Munroe.  In a recent chat with ABC Audio, Ladd explained the Angels' ongoing appeal. 

She expliained, "I just think people connect with the characters...I mean, we were grown-up Girl Scouts really in the show. There wasn't anything too racy about it. The wonderful thing about that show is the whole family could watch it."

Ladd explains, "I've run into so many women who are now police sergeants and firefighters...all of these women that were inspired by those characters, which is always so rewarding to hear." 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- A painting by Vincent Van Gogh has been stolen after burglars broke into a Dutch museum that is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Van Gogh’s “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” painted in 1884, was taken from the Singer Laren Museum, which lies just outside Amsterdam, in the early hours of Monday morning, the director of the museum said. The painting was stolen on what would have been the Dutch master's 167th birthday.

Staff at the museum said that they are “shocked and unbelievably annoyed” about the theft during a press conference that was live-streamed online.

The painting has now been added to the international Interpol list of stolen artworks, police said. The authorities have so far not issued a statement about how much the artwork might be worth.

The authorities at the Groninger Museum are aware of the theft of the Van Gogh painting, and said they are “shocked” by the news that the painting was taken. The painting was on loan from the Groninger to the Singer Laren.

Potential buyers should now be aware that the painting has been stolen, police said. The authorities are appealing for information from the public to assist their investigation.

The burglars broke into the museum at about 3:15 AM local time, according to police. Images from the scene of the burglary show that the glass doors at the front of the museum were smashed during the break-in.

Arthur Brand, an independent Dutch art crimes investigator who was responsible for recovering a Picasso painting that had been missing for two decades, told ABC News that while the painting wasn't one of Van Gogh's best known works, it still had the potential to fetch millions on the black market.

“This was done by professional thieves," he said. “I hope we will find them before they manage to sell the painting to the top criminals.”

The Singer Laren will be closed until at least June 1 in order to minimize the risk of visitors spreading the novel coronavirus, although the museum’s director continues to post videos online that discuss the museum’s best known paintings in order to keep the public engaged.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- A group of workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City walked off the job and went on strike Monday afternoon, demanding the company shut down and thoroughly clean the sprawling facility after they say multiple employees there have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Fear of the rapidly spreading virus, which has killed nearly 800 people in New York City, has also prompted threatened work stoppages at the online grocery shopping and delivery service Instacart and a planned "sickout" by workers at Whole Foods, a subsidiary of Amazon.

“People are afraid to work. People are there working and they’re putting their lives at risk because there are a number of (coronavirus) cases that they are not aware of," Chris Smalls, a management assistant at the Amazon fulfillment center in New York's Staten Island borough who is organizing the walkout, told ABC News.

Smalls said the company is not being honest with employees about the number of colleagues who have tested positive for the virus in recent days and that management has only confirmed that one worker at the warehouse has come down with the virus.

"That’s a bold face lie because I sent home the third case directly," Smalls said, adding that he knows of a total of seven cases at the facility that employs more than 4,000 people.

Smalls said the company placed him on quarantine on Saturday because he came in close contact with a worker who tested positive.

He said he sent the infected worker home on Tuesday when she was showing symptoms of illness. He said the worker was tested on Wednesday but was allowed to return to work until her test results came back positive on Thursday.

“She already had time to spread it. Her friend caught it. Her friend was the third case," Smalls said. "She tested positive and she’s a supervisor in the pack department and the pack department is right before the items go out door to the customers. It’s dangerous."

People are there working and they’re putting their lives at risk because there are a number of (coronavirus) cases that they are not aware of.

Smalls estimated that 50 to 100 employees planned to walk off the job and form a picket line outside the warehouse, making sure they practice safe social distancing.

"We’re trying to get the building closed down and sanitized. That’s all we’re asking for," Smalls said.

In a statement to ABC News, Amazon said it has been working to keep employees safe at the Staten Island fulfillment center, adding that claims made by Smalls that the company is putting workers in jeopardy are "simply unfounded."

"Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis," Amazon's statement reads. "Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances. The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day."

Amazon employees working in the grocery and delivery services have been classified as essential workers by government officials across the country.

The company says it's upping hourly wages from $17.50 to $23 to workers at the Staten Island warehouse and paying double overtime to those who show up to work. The company is also offering extended leave to full-time employees who prefer to stay home during the crisis.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The 2020 Summer Olympics officially have a new start date after being postponed a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Games in Tokyo will kick off on July 23, 2021, Japanese organizers announced Monday. That’s almost exactly a year to the day of when the opening ceremony was originally scheduled for in 2020 -- July 24.

The closing ceremony, meanwhile, will now be held on Aug. 8, 2021.

The organizers also announced Monday that the Paralympics were rescheduled to open on Aug. 24, 2021, and close on Sept. 5, 2021.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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