Coronavirus data is funneled away from CDC, sparking worries

In this May 27 photo, a medical worker wearing personal protective equipment cleans gurneys in the emergency department at a New York. Hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will now be collected by a private technology firm, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders.

STATE

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Bexar County Jail deputy stood by while six inmates brutally beat another in a shower and then waited 30 minutes for the assailants to clean up while the victim laid bleeding before he called for help, authorities said in announcing that the deputy had been charged and fired from his job.

Jean Camacho-Morales, 33, was arrested on Tuesday, which was a day after the attack, the San Antonio Express-News reported. He faces counts of official oppression, tampering with government records and aggravated assault with substantial bodily harm — the last count because Texas law requires all parties involved in a crime to be charged with the offense. His bail was set at $25,000.

“Though he didn’t lift a finger in assault, he also didn’t lift a finger to help or do his job,” Sheriff Javier Salazar said in announcing the charges.

Camacho-Morales said he immediately called for assistance when he found the 44-year-old victim brutally beaten in the shower, but surveillance footage showed otherwise, Salazar said. Camacho-Morales had prior knowledge of the attack and stood by as the victim was beaten by at least six other inmates. He then left the man “to lay in a pool of his own blood for 30 minutes while the other inmates had time to clean up and destroy evidence,” the sheriff said.

HOUSTON (AP) — A government auditor did not employ medical professionals when his office cleared U.S. border agents of wrongdoing in the deaths of two Guatemalan children, the auditor said Wednesday.

Joseph Cuffari, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee regarding the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo. Both children died in December 2018 after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Jakelin died of a bacterial infection that quickly led to sepsis and organ failure. Felipe contracted the flu, which led to a rapid, progressive infection.

In both cases, the children were in Border Patrol custody, sick for hours, before they were taken to hospitals. Advocates have accused the Border Patrol of negligence and say the Trump administration has not done enough to protect immigrant families. The agency has defended the care given to migrants, including numerous rescues of people trying to cross the border, and said agents took both children to the hospital as quickly as they could.

JC Penney says it will cut 1,000 jobs as it tries to fight its way out from under bankruptcy protection.

The company last month said it had identified just over 150 stores for closure in the first phase of a restructuring in which it will become a smaller operator.

The retailer said Wednesday that the jobs to be eliminated will include corporate, field management and international positions.

Penney filed for bankruptcy protection in May. It had been struggling prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but like many retailers, the virus outbreak intensified their difficulties. Other retailers to file for bankruptcy recently include J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and Sur La Table.

NATION

NEW YORK (AP) — Hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will now be collected by a private technology firm, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders.

The CDC director said Wednesday that he’s fine with the change — even though some experts fear it will further sideline the agency.

The CDC has agreed to step out of the government’s traditional data collection process “in order to streamline reporting,” Dr. Robert Redfield said during a call with reporters set up by the agency’s parent, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS officials recently posted a document on the agency’s website that redirected hospitals’ daily reporting of a range of data meant to assess the impact of the coronavirus on them. TeleTracking Technologies, based in Pittsburgh, will now collect that information.

AP — Con artists on Wednesday apparently hacked into the Twitter accounts of technology moguls, politicians and major companies in an apparent bitcoin scam.

The ruse included bogus tweets from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The fake tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to a bitcoin address.

Twitter put out a statement noting that it was aware of a “security incident impacting accounts on Twitter.” The company said it is investigating and working to fix it, and promised an update shortly.

Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter.

The apparently fake tweets were all quickly deleted, although The Associated Press was able to capture screenshots of several before they disappeared.

NEW YORK (AP) — Several New York City police officers were attacked and injured Wednesday as pro-police and anti-police protesters clashed on the Brooklyn Bridge.

At least four officers were hurt, including Chief of Department Terence Monahan, and 37 people were arrested, police said. Information on charges was not immediately available.

Surveillance video posted on social media by the police department showed a man on the bridge’s pedestrian walkway rushing toward a group of officers and reaching over a fence to bash their heads with a cane.

Police photos of the aftermath showed a lieutenant with a bloodied face, a detective holding a bandage to his head, and a bicycle officer helping a fellow officer dress a head wound.

WORLD

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia and Azerbaijan forces fought Tuesday with heavy artillery and drones, leaving at least 16 people killed on both sides, including an Azerbaijani general, in the worst outbreak of hostilities in years.

Skirmishes on the volatile border between the two South Caucasus nations began Sunday. Azerbaijan said it has lost 11 servicemen and one civilian in three days of fighting, and Armenia said four of its troops were killed Tuesday.

The two neighbors in the South Caucasus have been locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have frequently engaged in clashes. The current skirmishes appear to mark the most serious spike in hostilities since 2016 when scores were killed in four days of fighting.