Nation and world news briefs

Tribune Content Agency

‘Self-isolate,’ ‘PPE’ among terms added to Merriam-Webster dictionary

NEW YORK — Coronavirus-related terms such as “self-isolate,” “physical distancing” and “herd immunity” are among the 535 new words and meanings that have been added to the U.S. Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The new additions, which also include “WFH” and “PPE,” abbreviations for working from home and personal protective equipment, were part of a regular update Wednesday to reflect changing uses of the English language.

It came after the dictionary made a special update last month to add terms such as “COVID-19,” “contact tracing” and “community spread,” because of “the speed with which these new words became essential to communication.”

A new word is entered when it is in frequent use by many writers, a process that usually takes at least a few years, the company said in a news release.

“But there are extraordinary cases when a new term enters the language and immediately becomes part of our collective daily vocabulary,” it said. “Such is the case with the language of the current pandemic.”

Newly added technology words include “deepfake,” an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said, and “microtarget,” referring to direct tailored ads or political messages.

“Zonkey,” meaning a hybrid between a zebra and a donkey, is an example of how “modern English loves blends,” according to Merriam-Webster.

A new use of “thirsty” to describe a strong desire for attention, approval or publicity “demonstrates how English speakers love to use metaphor to push words into new territories.”



Newsom gets starring role in Trump campaign ad praising coronavirus response

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s campaign debuted an online ad Wednesday featuring extensive praise of the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic from one of his fiercest critics: California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The ad, which will run online on Facebook and YouTube in 17 states, starts and ends with Newsom thanking the Trump administration for its help in combating the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has reached every state and killed more than 55,000 people in the United States.

“Conversation, commitment – promise made, promise kept,” Newsom said in the clip, taken from a press conference the governor held last Thursday.

The new digital ad includes other Democratic governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo and New Mexico’s Michelle Grisham.

But clips of Newsom are woven throughout the ad, reflecting the newfound relationship the two men have developed since the outbreak began – and the political rewards Trump could reap by securing praise from the Democratic governor of the nation’s most populous state.

Newsom has battled the administration over immigration and climate policy since the outset of the Trump presidency. But both have publicly extolled their working relationship over the past two months, since the first case of person-to-person spread of the coronavirus was identified in Sacramento.

“Even Democratic governors recognize President Trump’s tireless work to combat the coronavirus and his commitment to protecting all Americans,” Sarah Matthews, deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in an email.

The campaign is preparing to mount a broad defense of Trump’s response to the crisis, amid dropping poll numbers and mounting criticism from Democrats that the president failed to act on warning signs that a pandemic loomed.

—McClatchy Washington Bureau


Britain adds care homes to Covid-19 deaths, raising total to 26,100

LONDON — Britain confirmed thousands of deaths in care homes from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, raising its death toll from the virus to 26,097, the second-highest in Europe behind Italy.

Health officials added 3,811 COVID-19 deaths to the total, mainly backdated from care homes, including 765 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

Tests had confirmed 165,221 infections with the virus by Wednesday, the health ministry said, but experts have suggested that several hundred thousand British people are likely to have been infected.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government had moved to “an improved daily reporting system” that includes COVID-19 deaths in all settings, not just hospitals.

Raab said the additional deaths had occurred from March 2 to April 28, “so they don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths.”

“We continue to see evidence in the data of a flattening of the peak of the virus, which is only happening because we have delivered on two of the central pillars of our strategic approach to defeating coronavirus,” he told reporters.

He cited the government’s expansion of Britain’s critical care capacity and the introduction of strict social distancing rules.

“We are still coming through the peak, and this, as I have said before, is a delicate and dangerous moment in this crisis,” Raab said, reiterating that the government considered it too early to begin easing its near-lockdown.



U.K.’s Johnson announces birth of son with partner Carrie Symonds

U.K. premier Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds announced the birth of a son on Wednesday morning.

“The Prime Minister and Ms. Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning,” a spokesperson for the couple said in an emailed statement. “Both mother and baby are doing very well.”

Johnson, 55, announced in February that he would marry Symonds, 32, and that they were expecting a baby in early summer.

They were the first unmarried couple officially to live together in Downing Street when he became prime minister last July. Johnson has been married twice before.

Previous prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair have also celebrated the birth of babies during their time in Number 10.

—Bloomberg News


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.