What we’re reading: Hubei province sees coronavirus’ deadliest day, woman allegedly steals $500k from church in New Jersey



In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, desert locusts jump up from the ground and fly away as a cameraman walks past, in Nasuulu Conservancy, northern Kenya. As locusts by the billions descend on parts of Kenya in the worst outbreak in 70 years, authorities are flying low over affected areas in small planes and spraying pesticides in what experts call the only effective control. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

By Tamia Banks

Sharp increases in death due to coronavirus

Around 242 deaths have been recorded in the Hubei province on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

An outbreak of new coronavirus cases in the Chinese province of Hubei has pushed the national death toll above 1,350, according to BBC

The number of cases of the coronavirus has increased to 14,840 people, which includes 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases. Until Wednesday’s increases, the number of people diagnosed in Hubei, where the outbreak emerged, was stabilizing. 

Now, there are almost 60,000 infections in total, with the Hubei province fostering 48,206 of those cases.

Women accused of embezzling over $500,000 from church she worked for

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph oversaw the finances for St. Paul Baptist Church in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of CNN

A church secretary in New Jersey has been charged with embezzling over $500,000 from the church, according to CNN. 

Taisha D. Smith-DeJoseph allegedly used the money to pay car loans, cable and cell phone bills and hundreds of online purchases. She also allegedly issued payroll and supplied reimbursement checks to herself from the church’s bank accounts.

“It’s very hurtful for the entire congregation, and we’ve been going through it for several months now,” said Rev. Fred Jackson.

Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, told CNN that the church’s board of trustees suspected a theft last June and approached authorities with their suspicions, which prompted an investigation.

Bewley said Smith-DeJoseph allegedly made purchases totaling $266,595.65 through PayPal and purchases of $22,812.69 on Amazon.

The woman was charged with multiple crimes including theft by deception, computer criminal activity and failure to pay income tax.

Billions of locusts swarm East Africa

The worst locust outbreak in generations due to an unusually long rainy season. Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Locusts have invaded Eastern Africa in numbers not seen in generations, according to the Washington Post,.

The swarms of locusts entering southern Ethiopia and parts of Kenya have the potential to decimate cropland in an area where 19 million people already face food insecurity.

An unusual, prolonged rainy season caused by an El Niño-like event in the Indian Ocean created ideal conditions for locust reproduction. 

“Our only option is to try and kill them all,” said Bayeh Mulatu, a pest control expert. “There is no such thing as containment of locusts. There is only control. Only killing.”

Ethiopia has only three operational planes to spray insecticides and Kenya has five. The United Nations says $76 million is needed immediately to increase spraying capacity.