A peaceful beginning to the workweek was shattered Monday after an explosion rattled through one of the busiest transit hubs in New York City, causing the authorities to evacuate hundreds of commuters and throwing the morning into chaos.
The Police Department said that one person was in custody after the blast echoed through the passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations shortly before 7:30 a.m.
The suspect, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, from Brooklyn, was in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital Center. The Fire Department said four injuries had been reported.
A senior city official who declined to be identified because of the continuing investigation said that Mr. Ullah had been wearing an explosive device and after the blast the police had to strip him to remove it.
The subway stations were evacuated, and Port Authority Bus Terminal was also shut down.
Mr. Ullah was alone, the police said, and the device was reported to have gone off prematurely. The explosion was recorded on surveillance video, the city official said.
In a news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the blast an attempted terrorist attack and said no other devices had been found.
“Our lives revolve around the subway,” he said. “The choice of New York is always for a reason, because we are beacons of the world. And we show that a society of many background and many faiths can work.”
“The terrorists want to undermine that,” he added. “They yearn to attack New York City.”
Soon after the explosion was reported, the commutes of New Yorkers miles away from the blast became chaotic. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, Q, R, W and 7 trains were skipping 42nd Street.
Commuters underground near 40th Street and 8th Avenue began to flee after the loud, muffled sound was heard in the Port Authority subway station. Police officers, firefighters and Port Authority counterterrorism officials tried to clear people from the bus station and the west side of 8th Avenue as sirens blared.
Andre Rodriguez, 62, a caseworker at one of the city’s shelters, said he heard the explosion around 7:30.
“I was going through the turnstile,” he said. “It sounded like an explosion, and everybody started running.”
Alicja Wlodkowski, 51, said that she had been in a restaurant inside the Port Authority when she suddenly saw a crowd of people running.
“A woman fell, and nobody even stopped to help her because it was so crazy,” she said. “Then it all slowed down. I was standing and watching and scared.”
UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER DIES AFTER LYING ABOUT COVID SYMPTOMS
A passenger on a United jet with nearly 200 others onboard was pronounced dead shortly after the pilot made an emergency landing, and it’s almost certain the man had COVID.
Furious United Airlines passengers have criticized the company after a man who they claimed was showing clear coronavirus-like symptoms was allowed to board the plane and died before he reached his destination.
The flight took off from Orlando bound for Los Angeles on Monday, and the victim was pronounced dead after an emergency landing in New Orleans.
Medics on board attempted to save him, including by reportedly performing CPR. His wife, one passenger said, told all within earshot that he had been showing symptoms for the past week and so she suspected COVID-19.
United said on Friday they were trying to trace those on board United Flight 591.
The flight was a Boeing 737-900 with capacity for 179 people, according to Flight Aware.
The victim was taken off and the plane and all other passengers then carried on to LA – with some later saying they were not offered the chance to rebook onto a different flight.
The plane, pictured at the gate in LA, made an emergency stop in New Orleans and the man was pronounced dead. The plane, and all its passengers, then continued to LA
A United flight from Orlando to Los Angeles Monday was diverted due to a medical emergency
‘Can I ask how you guys let a covid positive man on my flight last night?’ said one woman.
‘He was shaking and sweating boarding the plane. He was clearly sick and then died mid flight. We had an emergency landing in New Orleans and we didn’t even switch planes afterwards.
‘We all sat there for hours waiting while you guys cleaned up his blood and germs with wet wipes. Is this how you guys handle other people’s safety and health?’
She said that the airline’s claim that they believed he had a heart attack was ‘laughable’, adding: ‘There was never any mention of we are diverting this flight because of cardiac arrest reasons.
‘Everyone was aware this was COVID related because the wife was relaying his medical information, and shared he was in fact COVID positive and symptomatic for over a week. That is them covering up the fact that they handled this situation poorly.’
Another woman, named Shay, also tweeted angrily at United, accusing them of failing to check on the passengers before boarding, and criticizing the man and his wife for flying.
‘United, why did you never check our temperatures before boarding?’ she tweeted.
‘The family of the man, why didn’t you go to the hospital or not let your husband get on the flight feeling like that?
‘An entire plane had to watch him seize or have a heart attack none of us know which, and die.’
Shay said she noticed the man having breathing difficulties.
‘I made eye contact with his wife and looked at him and she just looked down,’ Shay said.
She said the medical team on board tried to revive him for an hour.
‘The family was crying, people were freaking out,’ she said.
‘He was shocked twice, given an epi-pen, 2 shots of adrenaline and mouth to mouth after chest compressions…’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked United for the passenger manifest so other passengers can be told that they might have been exposed to a disease, spokesman Charles Hobart said.
The passenger had filled out a form before the flight saying he had not tested positive for COVID-19 and had no symptoms of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the airline.
‘It is apparent the passenger wrongly acknowledged this requirement,’ United said.
United said the CDC did not specify the man’s cause of death, and United does not know whether it was COVID-19.
But, the airline said, the man’s wife was overheard telling an emergency medical technician that he had shown symptoms of the disease, including loss of taste and smell.
The CDC is collecting information to decide whether further public health action is appropriate, an agency spokesman said in a text message.
‘To protect the privacy of the individual, we aren’t providing this information to the public,’ the CDC spokesman told AP.
All four flight attendants were quarantined for two weeks once they arrived at Los Angeles, ‘per written guidelines,’ said Taylor Garland, spokeswoman for Association of Flight Attendants.
‘Our union continues to provide support to the crew,’ Garland said.
‘We urge passengers to comply with airline COVID policies and stay home if you´re sick.’
The man was taken to a hospital in New Orleans where he was pronounced dead, according to the airline.
Hobart said United originally was told that he died from heart trouble, so passengers were allowed to stay on the plane and complete the flight to Los Angeles or take a later flight.
The airline said all passengers stayed on the plane.
The incident occurred last Monday, and the CDC is now scrambling to contact the 179 passengers who were onboard.
Covid-19 cases rise aboard first cruise to resume sailing in the Caribbean
So far a total of seven passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 aboard the SeaDream 1 cruise ship docked in Barbados, according to two passengers on the ship.
Passengers who have tested negative for the virus will be able to leave the ship and travel home, Gene Sloan and Ben Hewitt told CNN on Friday. They are both among a handful of cruise journalists and bloggers on board.
The SeaDream Yacht Club cruise was the first to return to the Caribbean since the coronavirus pandemic shut operations down in March and was meant to demonstrate that increased safety protocols, including regular testing aboard the ship, could allow cruise voyages to take place during the pandemic.
Instead one passenger fell ill on Wednesday, forcing the SeaDream 1 to return to Barbados, where all 53 passengers and 66 crew were tested.
Hewitt said the crew had informed passengers that everyone who had tested negative twice would be allowed to disembark the ship and fly home on Saturday.
SeaDream Yacht Club said in a news release Thursday afternoon that “guests” had received “assumptive positive” results to preliminary rapid Covid tests, but did not specify the number who had done so.
SeaDream was asked to confirm the exact number of positive results.
SeaDream responded “We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way,” said SeaDream‘s Andreas Brynestad, in the SeaDream release.
Intercom announcement of positive test result
Sloan, who is a senior reporter for cruise and travel at The Points Guy, reported that the Covid scare started when the captain informed passengers of the preliminary positive test over the ship’s intercom system shortly before lunchtime on Wednesday.
Passengers were instructed to return to their cabins and remain isolated there, he said.
The ship, which was in the Grenadines at the time of the first preliminary positive test, docked in Barbados Wednesday evening.
“It’s not a great development for the cruise industry,” Sloan told CNN via email on Wednesday from his cabin on board. “I think the hope had been that the rigorous testing that SeaDream was doing would keep Covid off its ship.”
Multilayer testing for Covid-19 has been an integral part of SeaDream‘s efforts to create a Covid-19 negative bubble aboard its ships.
Passengers were tested in advance of traveling to the ship and also before boarding the ship, Sloan said.
“And SeaDream also was testing passengers four days into the trip,” he said. “We were scheduled to be tested again today. That’s a more rigorous testing plan than most lines had been discussing for the restarts.”
The protocol is due in part to the strict testing required by Barbados, where the ship will be based for the season, Sloan noted.
“I think what this shows is it’s going to happen. And until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity, when cruising starts up you’re going to see things like this happen. The question is how often and how big?”
Voyages from Barbados
SeaDream‘s winter voyages from Barbados started on November 7 with the sailing that has now been cut short.
These new Caribbean sailings follow a successful summer season for SeaDream in Norway, which the company said “resulted in zero positive cases during the entire Norwegian summer season.”
“After completing a successful summer season in Norway, we implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season. All guests were tested twice prior to embarkation and we are in the process of retesting guests,” said SeaDream‘s Andreas Brynestad in the statement released on Thursday.
Ben Hewitt, host of Cruise with Ben & David on YouTube, expressed his disappointment and frustration with the virus in an interview Thursday from his stateroom.
“It’s just so disappointing that this has happened because everybody has their hopes up high, and we can’t see anything more that they could’ve done,” said Hewitt.
“It’s just such a horrible virus, it just gets everywhere even with the constant testing.”
The use of masks on the voyage has been far less stringent.
Sloan told CNN that initially no one was wearing face masks, not even the crew. Crew members told him they weren’t necessary since the ship was a Covid-free “bubble.”
Then a few days into sailing, SeaDream instituted a mask policy but didn’t offer an explanation, he said.
Fewer than 250 guests
SeaDream‘s ships, which the company refers to as “superyachts,” have 56 staterooms, with a capacity for 112 guests and 95 crew.
Carrying fewer than 250 guests outside of US waters allows SeaDream to operate outside of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s orders around cruising.
The CDC recently issued a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships.”
The order, which applies to cruise ships in US territorial waters that have capacity to carry at least 250 passengers, is considered a tentative step toward the resumption of cruising.
Trade group Cruise Lines International Association said it will work with the CDC to resume US sailings as soon as possible, but that its members would continue a voluntary suspension of operations through the end of 2020.
On Friday, a letter signed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) called on the CDC to reinstate its no-sail order for cruise ships and reverse efforts to restart the industry’s US operations.
The letter cites the outbreak aboard SeaDream 1.
Despite precautions, “the virus was still able to infect multiple people on the ship, with the possibility of more confirmed cases emerging as passengers and crew are retested,” the letter reads.
“Unfortunately, this troubling development is not surprising and reaffirms the need to exercise extreme caution before sending passengers and crew back out to sea on cruises.”
Joe Biden wins the 2020 US Presidential election
Following a tense week of vote tallying, Joe Biden won the state of Pennsylvania and vaulted ahead in the race to become the next president of the United States. Biden’s win in the critical state put him over the threshold of 270 electoral votes, cutting off all avenues for his opponent.
Biden prevailed by flipping key states that went to Trump in 2016, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump again won in Florida and Ohio, but in the end was unable to chart a path to an electoral victory. Biden also leads by millions in the popular vote, with a record number of votes cast this year, many through the mail.
As his vice president, Kamala Harris will make history in myriad ways, becoming the first woman — and the first woman of color — to occupy the office. Harris, a California senator and the state’s former attorney general, built a career in the tech industry’s front yard.
Shattered barriers aside, this year’s election will likely go down in infamy for many in the U.S. The race was the strangest in recent years, characterized by rising storms of misinformation, fears over the fate of scaled-up vote-by-mail systems and a deadly virus that’s claimed well over 230,000 American lives. Biden’s campaign was forced to adapt to drive-up rallies and digital campaigning instead of relying on door-knocking and face-to-face interaction to mobilize the vote.
The circumstances of the election also created the perfect ecosystem for misinformation — a situation made worse by President Trump’s false claim of victory early Wednesday morning and ongoing claims of Democratic voter fraud. Trump appears to be in no mood to concede the election, but in the end the vote is what it is and Joe Biden will take office on January 20, 2021.
While a sitting president rejecting that unwritten democratic norm would be alarming, Trump’s decision will have little bearing on the ultimate political outcome. Whatever the coming days hold, the U.S. is entering into a new and unprecedented phase of uncertainty in which misinformation abounds and political tensions and fears of politically-motivated violence are running high.
The former vice president’s win brings a four year run of Trumpism to an abrupt end, though its effects will still reverberate throughout American politics, likely for decades. It also ushers in a new era in which Joe Biden plans to draw on the influence of an unlikely coalition of Democrats from across the political spectrum. The Senate still hangs in the balance with two tight races in Georgia headed to January runoffs.
Biden has laid out plans for sweeping climate action, and a healthcare extension that would cover more Americans and provide an opt-in Medicare-like public option. But his ability to enact most of those grand plans would hinge on a Democratic Senate. While either party was likely to continue pursuing more aggressive regulation for the technology industry, we’ll be watching closely for signals of what’s to come for tech policy.
But even without the Senate, the president-elect may be capable of making a swift and critical impact where it’s most needed: the coronavirus pandemic. In the continued absence of a national plan to fight the virus and a White House that downplays its deadliness and discourages mask-wearing, COVID-19 is raging out of control in states across the country, signaling a very deadly winter just around the corner.