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News Wrap: U.S. believes China vastly understated its COVID-19 death toll

In our news wrap Wednesday, U.S. intelligence believes that China vastly understated its own death toll in the COVID-19 pandemic. Two senior U.S. officials say the true number of dead in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, could be 10 times what was reported. Also, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the U.S. is missing a historic opportunity to ease tensions with sanctions relief.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: There is word from U.S. intelligence that China vastly understated its own death toll in the pandemic.

    Two senior U.S. officials tell the "NewsHour" that the true number of dead in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, could exceed 25,000. That is roughly 10 times what Wuhan reported. Beijing claims that about 3,300 people died from across all of China. President Trump said this evening that those numbers seem to be — quote — "a little bit on the light side."

    In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States today of missing a historic opportunity to ease tensions during the pandemic. He said Washington could have eased sanctions on Iran, where COVID-19 has infected some 48,000 people and killed 3,000.

  • President Hassan Rouhani (through translator):

    This was a good time. This was an opportunity for Americans to apologize for their wrong actions. This was a human issue, and no one would have reproached them for backing off.

    This was the best historic opportunity for the Americans to come back from the wrong path they have chosen and to tell the Iranian nation, just once, that we are not against the Iranian people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied on Tuesday that sanctions affect humanitarian aid to Iran. But he didn't rule out easing the financial penalties.

    Back in this country, West Virginia became the latest state to delay its presidential primary because of the coronavirus. The May 12 vote was pushed back today to June 9.

    Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders urged the state of Wisconsin to postpone its primary, which is set for next Tuesday.

    A new report finds widespread sexual harassment in the federal government's work force. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights estimates that nearly one in seven federal employees experienced sexual harassment between 2016 and 2018. The rate of women filing claims shot up over those years, with black women particularly at risk.

    The Food and Drug Administration today told drugmakers to stop selling Zantac and similar heartburn medications. They are all versions of a drug known as ranitidine, and the FDA says they may be tainted with a cancer-causing chemical. Many companies have already removed the products from shelves.

    And this is officially Census Day. Traditionally, wherever you were living today is listed as your residence in the 2020 census. So far, though, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Census Bureau to suspend door-to-door counting. Officials say they still expect to finish by year's end.

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