farewell Washington

Washington bids farewell to civil rights icon John Lewis – POLITICO

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior lawmakers participated in an invitation-only ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda to remember Lewis for his leadership in the civil rights movement and 33-year career in Congress.

“Under the dome of the U.S. Capitol we have bid farewell to some of the greatest Americans in our history. It is fitting that John Lewis joins this pantheon of patriots,” Pelosi said during the ceremony.

After Pelosi spoke, Lewis’ own voice came booming across the rotunda as excerpts from his 2014 commencement speech at Emory University played, followed by a standing ovation from attendees.

The roughly 100 members and other invited guests, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and biographer Jon Meacham, were arranged in seats around the Capitol Rotunda, spaced several feet apart, with Lewis’ flag-draped casket in the middle. Around them, heavy black drapes covered all four of the entrances to the cavernous room.

The bipartisan group of more than 100 members had spent time mingling with each other, regardless of party, as Lewis’ casket made its way to the Capitol — celebrating his life with selfies and stories. Several lawmakers donned black masks with Lewis’ signature “Good Trouble” phrase emblazoned across them.

Lawmakers sitting in the rotunda, particularly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, grew emotional during the tributes to Lewis. At one point, during a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by vocalist Wintley Phipps, several members were openly crying and staff passed around a box of tissues.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a close friend of Lewis, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) then placed a wreath of red and white flowers on each side of Lewis’ casket.

The Senate offered its own, presented by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only black Republican in that chamber.

The roughly hourlong ceremony had few speeches, and instead focused on prayer, song and reflection — a tribute to a deeply spiritual man.

After the ceremony, hundreds of other lawmakers who were unable to attend the private ceremony lined up to pay their respects, from tea party Republicans like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Several Capitol staff, too, were invited to take part, including aides who manage the House floor and the House chaplain, who donned a face mask and shield.

Afterward, Vice President Joe Biden, along with his wife, Jill Biden, made a rare Capitol visit to bid farewell to his former colleague. They lingered at the casket chatting for several minutes before Biden leaned over and placed his hand on the flag. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor also briefly visited the rotunda to pay respects.

Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to attend the public viewing later in the evening.

Following the last of the visitors, Lewis’ casket will be transferred outside to the Capitol steps for an outdoor public viewing through Tuesday evening — the first such ceremony of its kind, meant to accommodate coronavirus-related restrictions.

President Donald Trump, whom Lewis frequently criticized for his divisive politics, told reporters Monday he would not be visiting the Capitol to pay his respects.

The mood of the Capitol building — where a flag has flown half-mast since Lewis’ death earlier this month — was somber, with silence filling the halls instead of the usual chatter around the chamber. Pelosi had postponed votes for the members to mourn the loss of one of their own.

The public memorial will look dramatically different from the ceremonies of other noted Americans because of the ongoing pandemic. Hundreds of people are still expected to line up to pay their final respects just beyond the Capitol, but they will need to stand entirely outside, spaced several feet apart with masks required at all times, on a day when D.C. has a heat advisory in effect with temperatures set to exceed 100 degrees.

In a sign of the heat impact, a sailor in the honor guard tasked with carrying Lewis’ casket into the Capitol briefly collapsed while waiting for the ceremony to begin outside.

The Capitol viewing was just one of several stops over recent days to honor Lewis’ storied life and indelible place in U.S. history. A horse-drawn carriage carried Lewis’ casket across the bridge in Selma on Sunday, where he was saluted by state troopers at the end, more than 55 years after members of that same police force nearly cost him his life.

A motorcade carrying Lewis’ casket made several stops in Washington on Monday before ending at the Capitol, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial; the Lincoln Memorial, where Lewis was the youngest speaker during the March on Washington in 1963; the National Museum of African American History, that Lewis fought for years to build; and Black Lives Matter plaza near the White House, where Lewis’ made his last public appearance in June.

Earlier in the day, the House unanimously adopted a resolution from Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) to rename Democrats’ voting rights package after Lewis.

Lewis’ death comes at a watershed moment for the nation, as protesters continue to fill the streets in several major cities demanding immediate action to address decades of police brutality and systemic racism.

One of Lewis’ last public messages was to the Black Lives Matter protesters, who started the nationwide reckoning over racial justice after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police in May.

“To see all of the young people — Black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American — standing up, speaking up, being prepared to march, they’re going to help redeem the soul of America,” Lewis said during a virtual town hall with activists and former President Barack Obama earlier this summer.

“We need to tell people, tell each other, to be hopeful, to be optimistic, and to never, ever give up,” Lewis added.

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Washington NFL team to use ‘Washington Football Team’ for now, sources say – ESPN

12:21 PM ET

  • Adam SchefterESPN Senior Writer


    • ESPN NFL Insider
    • Joined ESPN in 2009
    • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

Effective immediately, Washington will call itself the “Washington Football Team” pending the adoption of a new name, the NFL franchise announced Thursday.

This is not a final renaming and rebranding for the team; this is the name it wants to use until the adoption of a new name at some point.

The team will continue the process of retiring the former name and hopes to be entirely rid of it on physical and digital spaces in the next 50 days, by the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Washington will not have any change to its color scheme. It will still use burgundy and gold, and the logo on the helmet will be replaced by each player’s number in gold. The Washington Football Team will debut its home uniforms in Week 1 against the Eagles, and its road uniforms in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.

While the Washington Football Team uses these uniforms and helmets for the 2020 season, it will be seeking the feedback of players, alumni, fans, sponsors and the community for the team name it will use in the future.

Terry Bateman, the franchise’s new executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the team wants to include fans, business partners and alumni in the process. That takes time.

“You’re doing a rebranding process that correctly takes 12 to 18 months. If you want to do it right, you have to take a deep breath, take a step back and go through the process,” he said. “We want to do it right, we want something thoughtful and inclusive and smart and bring a lot of points of views into this and come out the other side with something everyone is proud of and can rally behind.

“It feels organic and natural to do this. I love the look of what we’ve done. It’s really strong. I like the logo and the uniforms and the colors. … There’s a tremendous amount of work to do for the next 50 days to do all this. It’s a tremendous amount of work to go through this. The new will go up and the old will go down.”

Fans will be able to purchase “Washington Football Team” merchandise from Fanatics and NFL Shop in the coming days.

When asked if they were ever close to a new name, Bateman said, “You can argue what close is. Everyone’s got a different opinion. The conversations have been, ‘This is great, I like this one. No, I don’t like that.’

“There are a number of names people like. I probably had a thousand names submitted. I’m getting long letters why one name is the right name for us. It’s funny and it’s fun. It’s interesting. Everyone has an opinion. My wife has a strong opinion. My kids have an opinion. A lot have an idea, but it’s much bigger than that. Even if we had the name 100 percent locked it, to physically get it done before the football season starts would be between hard and impossible.”

Bateman said there is no end date in mind.

“The process is going to be completed whenever it’s right,” he said. “I don’t know when that will be. Whenever we feel like we’ve got the best solution for the organization, for the community, for the fans, for everybody involved.”

The team retired the name it had used for 87 years on July 13 after launching a thorough review 10 days earlier.

Team owner Dan Snyder had, for years, resisted changing the name; he told USA Today in 2013 to “put it in all caps” that he would never make such a move. Some who worked for Snyder said they believed then that he would rather sell the team than use a new name.

The controversy surrounding the name predated Snyder’s purchase of the team in May 1999. When Washington played at Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season, there were 2,000 protestors outside the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Jack Kent Cooke, the team owner at the time, said of any possible change, “There is not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world. I like the name, and it’s not a derogatory name.”

But Snyder and the franchise have been under more pressure after the protests following the death of George Floyd in May while he was in police custody in Minneapolis. Within a few weeks of Floyd’s death, multiple sources said Snyder had been discussing the name change with NFL officials for several weeks already.

During this time, a letter signed by 87 investors and shareholders who hold a total worth of $620 billion was sent to sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike, asking them to stop doing business with the team unless the name changed. When that news came out in an story on July 1, multiple people — including current and former team employees — echoed the same thought: It’s over. Most, if not all, were unaware that a possible change was in the works.

On July 2, FedEx issued a statement saying it had told the team it wanted the name changed. The other sponsors later released statements saying the same. Amazon said it would stop selling the team’s merchandise. Walmart and Target said they would stop selling the gear in stores. And, according to The Washington Post, FedEx said it would remove its signage from the stadium if the name was not changed by the 2021 season.

FedEx signed a 27-year naming rights deal for $205 million in 1998. The company’s owner and CEO, Fred Smith, has been a minority shareholder in the Washington franchise since 2003. However, according to multiple reports, he and the other minority investors, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman, want to sell their stakes. Snyder, his sister and his mother own 60% of the franchise.

ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.

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FedEx Washington

FedEx asks the Washington Redskins to change their name after pressure from investor groups – CNN

(CNN Business)FedEx (FDX), a major sponsor of the Washington Redskins, is asking the NFL team to change its name in response to growing pressure from investors who oppose the name’s racist connotations.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx told CNN Business in a statement.
The delivery services company — which sponsors and has naming rights for the stadium the Washington team plays in — released its statement after more than 80 groups and shareholders that invest in the company sent a letter to FedEx CEO Frederick Smith calling on it to “terminate its business and public relationships” with the franchise because of the name.
Similar letters were also sent by investors to the CEOs of Nike (NKE), which makes Redskins uniforms and equipment, and Pepsi (PEP), its snack and beverage partner. Those two companies have not responded to CNN Business requests for comment.
CNN Business has also reached out to the NFL and the team for comment.
In the letter to Smith, the investors, who said they represent more than $620 billion in assets, noted that the word “Redskins” remains a “de-humanizing word characterizing people by skin color and a racial slur with hateful connotations.”
“Virtually every major national American Indian organization has denounced use of Indian and Native related images, names and symbols disparaging or offending American Indian peoples, with over 2,000 academic institutions eliminating ‘Indian’ sports references,” they wrote.
“In light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name,” the investors wrote. “Therefore, it is time for FedEx to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”
The letters to Nike and Pepsi echoed that language. In the letter to Nike CEO John Donahoe, for example, the investors acknowledged that Nike “has taken steps to be more transparent about its workforce diversity.” The investors also pointed out that Nike “helped keep alive the public conversation around systemic racism and police brutality” by launching an ad campaign featuring quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice while he was playing in the league.
“However, Nike continues to provide uniforms and equipment” to Washington’s NFL team, the investors said, adding that “this association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”
As of Thursday night, it appeared that Nike-branded Redskins merchandise was unavailable on Nike’s online store. Merchandise representing every other NFL team was listed, though. Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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University Washington

University of Washington forecasts 145000 US COVID-19 deaths by August – MSN Money

FILE PHOTO: Empty street is seen near Lincoln tunnel in Manhattan borough following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo

(Reuters) – University of Washington researchers estimated on Monday that 145,728 people could die of COVID-19 in the United States by August, raising their grim forecast by more than 5,000 fatalities in a matter of days.

On Friday, the widely cited Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation at the university projected 140,496 deaths by August from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Researchers did not give a reason for the abrupt revision.

The new estimate came on the same day that Texas reported its highest number of hospitalizations so far in the pandemic and 22 U.S. states showed at least a small uptick in the number of new confirmed cases, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Among the states with the sharpest increases were Michigan and Arizona, according to Johns Hopkins, while Virginia, Rhode Island and Nebraska showed the greatest decreases.

Infectious disease experts have said that large street protests held in major U.S. cities after the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody, could touch off a new outbreak of the disease.

A total of more than 1.9 million cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, have been reported in the United States, according to a Reuters tally, which has confirmed 110,000 deaths.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Leslie Adler

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Thousands Washington

Washington sees tens of thousands at George Floyd protest – Los Angeles Times

At times, it seemed almost all of the nation’s capital came out to protest racism and police brutality on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people converged on the newly — and officially — named Black Lives Matter Plaza smack dab in front of the White House, which now resembles a fortress surrounded by high fences and concrete barriers, to decry the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Black power activists came, along with women from the YWCA. Army vets and union recruiters. Heavily tattooed people and women in hijabs. Children and gray-haired grandmothers. Federal workers, priests, doctors in scrubs, people with Bibles who seemed familiar enough with the book to know how to hold it.

Unlike earlier this week, there was minimal police presence and no reports of violence or vandalism. The mood was serious and passionate but also peaceful and friendly.

And the mayor was there.

“You know we have to speak up loudly for more justice and more peace!” Mayor Muriel Bowser called out to the crowd.

Few American cities have embraced the demonstrations over the police killing of Floyd, and of the heavy-handed federal response, as enthusiastically as the District of Columbia. And that has led to a battle between Bowser and the occupant of the besieged White House, President Trump.

At Bowser’s order, district public works crews on Friday painted “Black Lives Matter” in huge neon-yellow letters, stretching from curb to curb and down two full city blocks on 16th Street, which leads directly to the White House. Trump snapped back on Twitter, calling her “incompetent.”

City officials expected Saturday’s demonstrations, which also took place in nearby Maryland and Virginia suburbs, to be the largest so far. Rallies resumed for the ninth consecutive day across the country.

“The silent majority cannot be silent anymore,” said Eileen Suffian, a 64-year-old accountant who attended the Washington rally with her rescue dog Moxie. “Where there is justice somewhere, there is justice everywhere.”

As part of the age group considered more vulnerable to the coronavirus, Suffian said she spent weeks trying to avoid crowds. But after federal officials used riot police and National Guard troops, chemical gas and low-flying military helicopters to scatter peaceful protesters near the White House on Monday, she said she had to act.

“The government mobilizing the Army against its own citizens — I never thought i’d live to see that,” she said.

Noel Rubio, 24, the son of immigrants from the Philippines, said the causes of civil rights and LGBTQ equality have benefited from black activism, and it was time to return the support.

“We are standing up for our black brothers and sisters to say, Enough is enough,” said Rubio, who works in Washington as a consultant.

Unlike most of the carefully choreographed marches and rallies that often occur in Washington, the anti-racism protest Saturday appeared a grass-roots effort with no single organizer or group in charge. It was broadly dispersed, with parades of people hoisting signs, wearing masks and chanting cries for justice as they crisscrossed the city in sweltering heat.

With much of the downtown closed to traffic, crowds stretched about a mile up 16th Street from the White House, and for about two miles from Capitol Hill to the White House. Demonstrators also crowded the grassy National Mall, massing in front of the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments.

Some protesters stopped to take a knee. Others held up their hands and chanted, “Don’t shoot!” Almost to a person, they carried signs, as well as masks, proclaiming, “I can’t breathe” or “Black futures matter.”

In some spots music blared from speakers; elsewhere, there were competitions of megaphones broadcasting speeches.

Along the many routes, in the intense heat and humidity, churches and individual groups offered free bottles of water, lunches and squirts of hand sanitizer to the demonstrators.

Several protesters credited Bowser for having stepped in after the Monday crackdown, when protesters were violently cleared so that Trump could make his way to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op. Since then, several protesters said, the atmosphere has shifted from a military-occupied city to something closer to a street festival.

Police also offered a welcoming tone.

“We are going to continue to change our policing methods to make them the most acceptable to the community we serve,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said as he welcomed Saturday’s demonstrations.

In another dig at Trump, Bowser asked governors who sent National Guard troops to withdraw them, saying they were unnecessary and “encroached on the rights” of city residents. On Friday, after Bowser complained, the Pentagon said it was withdrawing the 1,600 active-duty troops it had sent to bases near the city.

Andrew Duggins, who completed four deployments in Afghanistan before retiring from the Army as a captain last year, said he was stunned to realize that the military has more rules about use of force than the police in Minneapolis, where Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“We had escalation-of-force procedures, and if we didn’t follow them, we’d get hammered,” he said.

One question that swirled through the crowds Saturday was simple. What comes next? Will the wave of anguish and activism translate into votes in November?

“I sense an energy, a pressure for real substantive change,” said Father Patrick Keyser, an Episcopal priest who welcomed demonstrators outside St. John’s. “Not to say it will be easy.”

There were numerous “Dump Trump” signs, and organizers promoting voter registration. But there was also widespread cynicism that voting seems not to have improved the plight of many black Americans.

“We can’t risk not voting,” said Quinn Smith, a black 26-year-old who works in information technology. “The rights of all of us are at stake.” He hoisted a sign that said “Black lives matter” and “VOTE!”

Casting his eyes at the diverse masses around him, Smith added, “This is America, the perfect representation of what America should look like.”

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states Washington

Washington state’s Clark County delays phase 2 reopening after coronavirus outbreak at food processing plant – CBS News

Americans head outdoors for Memorial Day weekend

An outbreak of coronavirus cases at a food processing plant in Washington state has put a temporary halt to Clark County’s plans to enter phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. According to Clark County Public Health, 38 workers at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

The plant was ordered to temporarily shut down last Tuesday, according to CBS News affiliate KOIN. One worker has been hospitalized. Every employee at the facility will be tested for the coronavirus, a process which began Friday, KOIN reports.

The county’s petition to enter phase 2 of reopening will be discussed next week.

So far, 21 counties in Washington have been approved to begin phase 2, CBS News affiliate KIRO reports.

Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s plan for reopening includes restaurants operating at a maximum of 50% capacity with no more than five people at a table. Hair salons, nail salons and barber shops may also operate at 50% capacity. Outdoor activities involving no more than five people are permitted.

One of the criteria for counties in Washington applying to move to phase 2 was to record an average of fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period, according to KIRO. Counties can be moved back to phase 1 or put back on full lockdown should things get worse during phase 2.

Washington has over 19,200 confirmed cases and at least 1,050 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Food processing plants have emerged as hotspots for the coronavirus outbreak in several states. Nearly 600 workers at a Tyson chicken plant in North Carolina tested positive for COVID-19 after the plant reopened following a deep cleaning.

In Texas, testing at meatpacking plants in the Panhandle was greatly increased, which contributed to a large spike in confirmed cases last week.

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Coronavirus Washington

How coronavirus attacks the human body – The Washington Post – The Washington Post

Deborah Coughlin was neither short of breath nor coughing. In those first days after she became infected by the novel coronavirus, her fever never spiked above 100 degrees. It was vomiting and diarrhea that brought her to a Hartford, Conn., emergency room on May 1.

“You would have thought it was a stomach virus,” said her daughter, Catherina Coleman. “She was talking and walking and completely coherent.”

But even as Coughlin, 67, chatted with her daughters on her cellphone, the oxygen level in her blood dropped so low that most patients would be near death. She is on a ventilator and in critical condition at St. Francis Hospital, one more patient with a strange constellation of symptoms that physicians are racing to recognize, explain and treat.

At the beginning, we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” said Valentin Fuster, physician-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. “We were seeing patients dying in front of us. It was all of a sudden, you’re in a different ballgame, and you don’t know why.”

Today, there is widespread recognition the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus. Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots, even as they struggle to help patients breathe.

Learning about a new disease on the fly, with more than 78,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic, they have little solid research to guide them. The World Health Organization’s database already lists more than 14,600 papers on covid-19. Even the world’s premier public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have constantly altered their advice to keep pace with new developments.

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“We don’t know why there are so many disease presentations,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Bottom line, this is just so new that there’s a lot we don’t know.”

More than four months of clinical experience across Asia, Europe and North America has shown the pathogen does much more than invade the lungs. “No one was expecting a disease that would not fit the pattern of pneumonia and respiratory illness,” said David Reich, a cardiac anesthesiologist and president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

It attacks the heart, weakening its muscles and disrupting its critical rhythm. It savages kidneys so badly some hospitals have run short of dialysis equipment. It crawls along the nervous system, destroying taste and smell and occasionally reaching the brain. It creates blood clots that can kill with sudden efficiency and inflames blood vessels throughout the body.

It can begin with a few symptoms or none at all, then days later, squeeze the air out of the lungs without warning. It picks on the elderly, people weakened by previous disease, and, disproportionately, the obese. It harms men more than women, but there are also signs it complicates pregnancies.

Symptoms of covid-19 appear to include:

Brain: Strokes from blood clots, neurological issues

Eyes: Pinkeye

Nose: Loss of smell and taste (anosmia)

Blood: Unexpected blood clotting; attacks the lining of blood vessels

Gastro­intestinal system: Vomiting and diarrhea in some people

Lungs: Clogs and inflames alveoli (air sacs), hampering breathing; pulmonary embolism from breakaway blood clots and microclots

Heart: Weakens heart muscle; causes dangerous arrhythmias and heart attacks due to small clots

Kidneys: Damage to structures that filter waste from blood; patients often require dialysis

Skin: “Covid toes,” or fingers, a purple rash from the attack on blood vessels

Immune system: Widespread impact, including overactive immune response that attacks healthy tissue

  • Symptoms of covid-19 appear to include:

It mostly spares the young. Until it doesn’t: Last week, doctors warned of a rare inflammatory reaction with cardiac complications among children that may be connected to the virus. On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced 73 children had fallen severely ill in the state and a 5-year-old boy in New York City had become the first child to die of the syndrome. Two more children had succumbed as of Saturday.

That news has shaken many doctors, who felt they were finally grasping the full dimensions of the disease in adults. “We were all thinking this is a disease that kills old people, not kids,” Reich said.

Mount Sinai has treated five children with the condition. Reich said each started with gastrointestinal symptoms, which turned into inflammatory complications that caused very low blood pressure and expanded their blood vessels. This led to heart failure in the case of the first child who died.

“The pattern of disease was different than anything else with covid,” he said.

“We were all thinking this is a disease that kills old people, not kids,” said David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Of the millions, perhaps billions, of coronaviruses, six were previously known to infect humans.

Four cause colds that spread easily each winter, barely noticed. Another was responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed 774 people in 2003. Yet another sparked the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, which kills 34 percent of the people who contract it. But few do.

SARS-CoV-2, the bad seed of the coronavirus family, is the seventh. It has managed to combine the infectiousness of its cold-causing cousins with some of the lethality of SARS and MERS. It can spread before people show symptoms of disease, making it difficult to control, especially without widespread and accurate testing. At the moment, social distancing is the only effective countermeasure.

It has infected 4 million people around the globe, killing more than 280,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. In the United States, 1.3 million have been infected and more than 78,000 have died.

Had SARS or MERS spread as widely as this virus, Rasmussen said, they might have shown the same capacity to attack beyond the lungs. But they were snuffed out quickly, leaving only a small sample of disease and death.

Paramedics bring home a woman with covid-19 who underwent an emergency C-section because she was gravely ill. After extensive care, including time on a ventilator, she was released from a hospital in Stamford, Conn., and she has a healthy newborn. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Trying to define a pathogen in the midst of an ever-spreading epidemic is fraught with difficulties. Experts say it will be years until it is understood how the disease damages organs and how medications, genetics, diets, lifestyles and distancing impact its course.

“This is a virus that literally did not exist in humans six months ago,” said Geoffrey Barnes, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan who works in cardiovascular medicine. “We had to rapidly learn how this virus impacts the human body and identify ways to treat it literally in a time-scale of weeks. With many other diseases, we have had decades.”

In the initial days of the outbreak, most efforts focused on the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, eventually working its way deep into the lungs, filling tiny air sacs with cells and fluid that choke off the flow of oxygen.

But many scientists have come to believe that much of the disease’s devastation comes from two intertwined causes.

The first is the harm the virus wreaks on blood vessels, leading to clots that can range from microscopic to sizable. Patients have suffered strokes and pulmonary emboli as clots break loose and travel to the brain and lungs. A study in the Lancet, a British medical journal, showed this may be because the virus directly targets the endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

The second is an exaggerated response from the body’s own immune system, a storm of killer “cytokines” that attack the body’s own cells along with the virus as it seeks to defend the body from an invader.

Research and therapies are focused on these phenomena. Blood thinners are being more widely used in some hospitals. A review of records for 2,733 patients, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicates they may help the most seriously ill.

“Things change in science all the time. Theories are made and thrown out. Hypotheses are tweaked. It doesn’t mean we don’t know what we are doing. It means we are learning,” said Deepak Bhatt, executive director of interventional cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Inflammation of those endothelial cells lining blood vessels may help explain why the virus harms so many parts of the body, said Mandeep Mehra, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and one of the authors of the Lancet study on how covid-19 attacks blood vessels.

That means defeating covid-19 will require more than antiviral therapy, he said.

“What this virus does is it starts as a viral infection and becomes a more global disturbance to the immune system and blood vessels — and what kills is exactly that,” Mehra said. “Our hypothesis is that covid-19 begins as a respiratory virus and kills as a cardiovascular virus.”

The thinking of kidney specialists has evolved along similar lines. Initially, they attributed widespread and severe kidney disease to the damage caused by ventilators and certain medications given to intensive-care patients, said Daniel Batlle, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Then they noticed damage to the waste-filtering kidney cells of patients even before they needed intensive care. And studies out of Wuhan found the pathogen in the kidneys themselves, leading to speculation the virus is harming the organ.

“There was nothing unique at first,” Batlle said. But the new information “shows this is beyond the regular bread-and-butter acute kidney injury that we normally see.”

Like other coronaviruses, SARS-Cov-2 infiltrates the body by attaching to a receptor, ACE2, found on some cells. But the makeup of the spikes that protrude from this virus is somewhat different, allowing the virus to bind more tightly. As a result, fewer virus particles are required to infect the host. This also may help explain why this virus is so much more infectious than SARS, Rasmussen said.

Other factors can’t be ruled out in transmission, she said, including the amount of virus people shed and how strictly they observe social distancing rules.

Once inside a cell, the virus replicates, causing chaos. ACE2 receptors, which help regulate blood pressure, are plentiful in the lungs, kidneys and intestines — organs hit hard by the pathogen in many patients. That also may be why high blood pressure has emerged as one of the most common preexisting conditions in people who become severely ill with covid-19.

A colorized scan of a cell (shown in red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (shown in yellow), isolated from a patient sample. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The receptors differ from person to person, leading to speculation that genetics may explain some of the variability in symptoms and how sick some people become.

Those cells “are almost everywhere, so it makes sense that the virus would cause damage throughout the body,” said Mitchell Elkind, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and president-elect of the American Heart Association.

Inflammation spurs clotting as white blood cells fight off infection. They interact with platelets and activate them in a way that increases the likelihood of clotting, Elkind said.

Such reactions have been seen in severe infections, such as sepsis. But for covid-19, he said, “we are seeing this in a large number of people in a very short time, so it really stands out.”

“The virus can attack a lot of different parts of the body, and we don’t understand why it causes some problems for some people, different problems for others — and no problems at all for a large proportion,” Elkind said.

Coughlin, in critical condition at a hospital in Connecticut, deteriorated quickly after she reached the emergency room. Her fever shot up to 105 and pneumonia developed in her lungs.

On Wednesday, she called her six daughters on FaceTime, telling them doctors advised she go on a ventilator.

“If something happens to me, and I don’t make it, I’m at peace with it,” she told them.

The conversation broke daughter Coleman’s heart.

“I am deciding to help her go on a ventilator, and she may never come off,” she said. “That could have been my last phone conversation with her.”

Illustrations from iStock. Edited by Carol Eisenberg. Photo editing by Nick Kirkpatrick. Copy-edited by Jennifer Anderson and Thomas Floyd. Design and development by Tyler Remmel.

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