Disinfect mail boxes and entertainment to 'feed and fuel' the soul; In The News for March 31

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 31 ...

COVID-19 in Canada ...

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Governments must be as transparent as possible with Canadians about response measures for COVID-19, says former Liberal public safety minister Ralph Goodale.

The cascade of daily briefings from the prime minister all the way down to local health officials are essential to that process, but he said it's equally important that the government makes sure its being held accountable as it develops its response.

"It's very important for them to be there and be present and visible and accessible in order for people to have the confidence that the system and the country is working," Goodale said in an interview.

The Liberals faced major criticism last week when their emergency aid bill for COVID-19 contained broad powers to raise and spend money without Parliament's approval for the next 21 months.

The Opposition demanded a change, and those provisions now expire at the end of September.

Goodale said he's not sure why the government would have sought such extended authority. He doesn't believe they were trying to hide anything, given that they took the unusual step of giving opposition parties the bill ahead of time.

"The dispute was unfortunate, it set back that process of working together a bit," he said.

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Also this ...

The union representing Canada Post employees is asking Canadians to disinfect their mail boxes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

And the post office itself is asking Canadians with dogs to keep their doors closed during deliveries, where possible.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says daily washing and disinfecting of letter boxes, along with handrails and door knobs, will help keep mail carriers safe.

CUPW national president Jan Simpson says Canadians are relying on the postal system to keep packages and letters flowing to them as they self-isolate in their homes.

And she says they need to know their mail is safe.

With so many people home during the day now, Canada Post says the number of interactions between postal carriers and dogs has been increasing, making physical distancing difficult and increasing the risk of dog bites.

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COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

New York's governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers amid a "staggering" number of deaths from the coronavirus, as he and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the U.S. could soon face.

"Please come help us in New York now," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state's death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day to a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.

"We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "To me, we're beyond staggering already. We've reached staggering."

Even before the governor's appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer, and a Navy hospital ship, also sent to the city after 9-11, had arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.

"Whatever it is that they need, I'm willing to do," said Jerry Kops, a musician and former nurse whose tour with the show Blue Man Group was abruptly halted by the outbreak.

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COVID-19 around the world ...

India is adding more resources to tackle its increase in coronavirus cases by announcing that private hospitals may be requisitioned to help treat virus patients, and turning railway cars and a motor racing circuit into makeshift quarantine facilities.

The steps were taken after a nationwide lockdown announced last week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities to their villages, often on foot and without food and water, raising fears that the virus may have reached to the countryside, where health care facilities are limited.

Indian health officials have confirmed more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 29 deaths.

Experts say that local spreading is inevitable in a country where tens of millions of people live in dense urban areas with irregular access to clean water, and that the exodus of the migrants will burden the already strained health system.

As India's under-resourced health care system prepares to confront a wave of coronavirus cases, some state governments have asked liquor factories and breweries to produce liquid sanitizer after the initial supply failed to match demand. Designers, non-profit groups and prisoners in various jails have stepped up to help overcome shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment.

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COVID-19 in entertainment

Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Dave Grohl opened their doors — literally — as the musicians performed from their homes for an hour-long benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Keys kicked off the Sunday's event — which also honoured health professionals and first responders — singing her song "Underdog" from a piano in her home. She thanked those "risking their lives to keep us safe." Carey, one of the last performers, sang "Always Be My Baby" from her home studio in New York, then told the audience she was going to put on gloves.

Elton John sang and also hosted the special that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations; he said he hoped "this entertainment will feed and fuel your soul."

The homebound setting wasn't a stretch for the home-schooled Eilish, who typically performs live alongside her brother-producer Finneas, who is either on guitar or piano. On Sunday, he strummed along as Eilish sang her No. 1 hit "Bad Guy" from their couch. The concert special came on the one-year anniversary of Eilish's Grammy-winning debut album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" — which Finneas and Eilish produced and recorded from their home in Los Angeles.

Eilish told viewers she was happy she and her brother could provide "some sort of comfort during the crazy, crazy time."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.

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