The Latest: Trump saddened to hear Johnson in intensive care
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Trump saddened to hear British Prime Minister Boris Johnson taken into intensive care.
— France’s health minister has reported the country’s highest 24-hour death toll recorded in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
— World Health Organization urges caution in relaxation of lockdown strategies
— Ontario’s Ford: 500,000 masks headed across the border.
— Italy’s day-to-day increase in COVID-19 cases dips again.
President Donald Trump said he was saddened to hear British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken into intensive care as he battles the new coronavirus.
“Americans are all praying for his recovery,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “He’s been a really good friend. He’s been really something very special, strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”
Trump said he asked two “leading companies” to contact officials in London about therapeutics that could be of help.
He did not specifically identify the companies, but said “we have contacted all of Boris’s doctors and we’ll see what’s going to take place but they are ready to go.”
“When you get brought into intensive care, that gets very, very serious with this particular disease.” Trump said.
The USNS Comfort is now being used for COVID-19 patients.
President Trump confirmed that he’d called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier Monday to let him know that the USNS Comfort can now be used for COVID-19 patients.
“We’re going to let him do it,” said Trump, adding that the ship will will be used for patients from both New York and New Jersey.
“Hopefully that will be very helpful for both states,” he said.
Cuomo had tweeted shortly before Trump’s news conference began that the ship would add 1,000 beds staffed by federal personnel.
“This will provide much-needed relief to our over stressed hospital systems,” he wrote.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is touting the end of a dispute with 3M to supply millions of masks to medical professionals on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.
Trump said that the “3M saga ends very happily. We’re very proud to be dealing now with 3M.”
The president said that the company agreed to deliver an additional “55.5 million high-quality facemasks each month.”
Trump had invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to prevent 3M from exporting masks abroad.
It had sparked some fears that other nations would down on the shipment of medical supplies to the US.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.
Johnson’s office says Johnson is conscious and does not require ventilation at the moment.
Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late Sunday, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him.
PARIS — France’s health minister has reported the country’s highest 24-hour death toll recorded in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Olivier Veran said Monday evening that 833 people died of coronavirus in hospitals and nursing homes since Sunday.
Though some predicted that the infection rate might start to slow, Veran said that “we have not reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic.”
France has only recently started counting nursing home deaths in their COVID-19-related death counts, and previously only reported deaths in hospitals.
The total number that have died from the coronavirus stands at 8,911.
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended stay-at-home restrictions through the end of the month, citing fresh evidence Monday that the outbreak-fighting rules could be helping the state avoid a worst-case catastrophe.
New York state has tallied 4,758 deaths from COVID-19, with 599 reported in the past 24 hours. It remains the most impacted state with more than 130,000 laboratory-confirmed cases and close to 17,000 people hospitalized.
But the number of new people entering hospitals daily has dropped, as have the number of critically ill patients requiring ventilators. Recent data suggests the state could be at or near the peak of the outbreak, state officials said.
Warning it was no time the relent, Cuomo said schools and nonessential businesses will remain closed until April 29.
Cuomo stressed that even if New York has reached the peak, numbers could persist at these levels, which would continue to stress struggling hospitals.
NEW JERSEY — New Jersey’s death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 1,000 people, according to data released Monday from the state’s health department.
In the past 24 hours, New Jersey fatalities from COVID-19 climbed from 917 to 1,003.
New Jersey and New York are among the hardest-hit states in the country. New Jersey is likely weeks away from hitting the peak of the outbreak, according to health officials.
Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties in suburban New York have seen the most cases.
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says his state is starting to see hospital admission and death rates that could suggest new infections are slowing.
“We are starting to real signs that these mitigation measures that we put into place weeks ago are starting to bear real results, and we’re hopeful that we’re seeing the beginning of the flattening of the curve,” the Democratic governor said at his daily press briefing, offering a hint of optimism in a state with one of the nation’s highest per capita virus infection rates.
The New Orleans region isn’t expected to run out of ventilators or hospital beds within days, as previously projected.
Edwards cautioned that even if data continues to show that Louisiana has truly turned a corner in battling the outbreak, no one should celebrate by having an Easter crawfish boil or more trips outside of the house.
“The fear is that I’m telling people that and they’re going to say, ‘Oh, the task at hand is accomplished. We can go back to doing whatever it is we normally do,’” Edwards said. “That is exactly the wrong answer.”
Louisiana has nearly 15,000 people with confirmed infections. The state’s death toll is at least 512.
South Carolina’s governor has added criminal penalties to his orders demanding people stay home unless going to work or the grocery store to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Gov. Henry McMaster said people can call it a “stay-at-home” order if they like. South Carolina had been the final state east of the Mississippi to not have that specific order.
South Carolina has closed almost all stores that don’t sell medicine, food, home improvement supplies, liquor or guns and banned gathering of three or more people. Anyone violating the governor’s social distancing orders can be ticketed for a misdemeanor and face a $100 fine or 30 days in jail.
McMaster also says he has not been tested for COVID-19. The governor says he has followed protocol that says only test people with symptoms.
At 72, McMaster is the oldest governor in South Carolina’s 350-year history as an English colony and state.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that because of the coronavirus outbreak schools will remain physically closed for the remainder of the school year and that the state’s more than 1.2 million public and private K-12 students will continue distance learning until the end of June.
Washington state had the first major COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
Schools have been shut statewide since March 17 and were originally scheduled to reopen April 27.
Now, that closure is extended until midnight June 19 — when the spring term ends — and schools are encouraged to continue to provide distance learning. The order also asks schools to start planning for a potential expansion of the order into the summer and fall.
Under the order, some in-person and on-site services such as meetings with seniors to help finish up final projects and tutoring support is allowed only if social distancing and proper hygiene practices are followed.
Last week, Inslee extended orders to keep non-essential businesses closed and most of the state’s residents home through May 4, saying that social distancing measures must remain in place an additional month in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
RICHMOND, Va. — Eight more residents of a Virginia long-term care facility who tested positive for coronavirus have died, bringing the death toll amid the outbreak to 28, the facility’s administrator said Monday.
Deaths at the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County have continued to mount since health officials tested every resident last week because of the scope of the outbreak. That testing showed roughly two-thirds of the residents had the virus.
Thirty-four residents were experiencing symptoms ranging from moderate to mild, and 54 of the residents who tested positive were showing no sign of being ill, the statement said.
Across Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health reported nearly 2,900 confirmed cases and 54 deaths Monday, figures that state health commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said at a news conference were “almost definitely an underestimate” because of a lack of widespread testing.
LONDON — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said countries looking to exit their lockdown strategies need to use a “calibrated, step-wise approach” that does not release all the restrictions at once.
Dr. Mike Ryan said Monday that the lockdowns seen in many countries involve shutdowns of schools, workplaces, and social gatherings in venues such as public places and parks.
“It probably would be a bad idea to lift all the lockdown restrictions (at once),” Ryan said, noting that countries shouldn’t be looking to transition out of a shutdown without having a plan in place to keep the spread of COVID-19 to manageable levels.
“The lockdown is pushing the disease down. Once you raise the lockdown, you have to have an alternative method to suppress the infection,” Ryan said, explaining countries should have systems in place to detect cases, track contacts, quarantine suspect cases and test widely for the disease.
TORONTO — The premier of Canada’s most populous province says U.S. officials have stopped 3 million masks from getting to Ontario from manufacturing giant 3M but he says 500,000 of them are being released Monday.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says getting masks across the U.S. border is difficult after the Trump administration announced it would prevent the export of N95 protective masks.
Ford says he’s hopeful Canada will get an exemption and says he feels better about that after speaking with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Ford says he’s grateful for anything he can from the U.S. after delays in global shipments and recent restrictions at the U.S. border have left Ontario with about a one-week supply of critical protective equipment for health care workers.
Canadian health care workers — like those in the U.S. — are in dire need of the masks that provide more protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker began his daily briefing with a response to President Donald Trump’s poor assessment of his performance.
The Democratic governor again went over what the state had received from the national stockpile and what the state had procured on its own.
As an example, he noted that the federal government had supplied 368,000 N95 masks and 693,000 gloves, while the state had procured 10 million N95 masks and 19 million gloves.
At the same time, Pritzker said the state’s “10-day burn rate for PPE” is 1.5 million N95 masks and 25 million gloves.
“To anyone who wants a response to some of the blame-shifting coming out of the White House, all I have to say is, look at the numbers,” Pritzker said.
ATLANTA — Motorists lined up in rows of cars at a mass drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus in Atlanta.
The state of Georgia is partnering with CVS Health in launching rapid testing Monday at a parking deck on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus. Gov. Brian Kemp announced the plan recently. Georgia has recorded more than 200 virus-linked deaths and more than 1,300 hospitalizations.
Total infections statewide exceed 7,000 and Fulton County, which is home to Atlanta, leads the state with nearly 1,000 cases.
Experts say they hope more testing will give a better sense of how widespread the coronavirus is in Georgia.
“Roll your window up, roll your window up!” a police officer yelled at drivers as they approached the first of at least two checkpoints. Dozens of drivers pressed their photo IDs and cellphones against their car windows to show their appointment confirmations. Cars were then directed to another area where testing was being done.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia judge in the county with the state’s highest coronavirus caseload has approved strapping ankle monitors to people who test positive but refuse to quarantine. The Monday order allows Kanawha County sheriffs to use the GPS bracelets if someone with the virus ignores an isolation order.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people violated the mandates, though one local official put the number at “a few.” Officials say at least 345 people statewide have the virus with four reported deaths.
Kanawha County, where the state capital of Charleston is located, has the most positive cases in the state with 56.
Eleven residents of a central Indiana nursing home have died from COVID-19, Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Monday.
In addition to the 11 at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson, three workers there have been hospitalized, including two in critical condition, Box said during a state news briefing on the pandemic.
The state is helping to transfer residents there without COVID-19 symptoms to another skilled nursing home, Box said.
She said an outbreak in a nursing home had been her biggest fear from the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a heartbreaking situation and illustrates what a brutal toll the COVID-19 can take on our most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, this will not be the last outbreak of this kind,” Box said.
MIAMI — Dozens of Americans aboard a cruise ship that recently docked in Miami with coronavirus cases are still waiting to disembark because of new federal rules requiring cruise companies to bring them directly home to avoid more infections.
Two passengers died before the Coral Princess ship docked Saturday in Miami and a third died at a hospital. At least 17 passengers have been taken to hospitals. The Miami-Dade mayor said many foreign passengers have disembarked and been taken to the Miami airport where charter planes were ready to fly them abroad. But many of the 250 Americans on board continued to wait, two days after docking.
WARSAW, Poland — Polish lawmakers have voted to conduct the country’s forthcoming presidential elections exclusively through postal voting because of the lockdown imposed for the coronavirus pandemic.
Parliament also empowered house speaker Elzbieta Witek to push back the date of the election, if necessary. Both decisions by parliament late Monday require approval from the Senate and from President Andrzej Duda, who is seeking re-election.
Time was an issue for a decision on whether and how to hold the election that had been scheduled — before the pandemic hit — for May 10.
Accelerating infections and strict containment measures would make it impossible for people to vote as usual, at polling stations.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization on Monday denounced “racist remarks” by two French scientists for suggesting coronavirus vaccine testing should be carried out in Africa.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who is the first WHO director-general from Africa, said decried “a hangover from a colonial mentality” at a time when he has urged “solidarity” among countries.
He was alluding to comments on a French news program Wednesday that prompted outrage. Dr. Jean-Paul Mira of Paris’ respected Cochin Hospital floated the prospect of carrying out vaccine tests in Africa.
“If I can be provocative,” Mira said on LCI television, “Shouldn’t we do this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no resuscitation?”
The idea drew agreement from another guest, microbiologist Camille Locht from the INSERM medical research institute.
Tedros retorted at a news conference Monday: “Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine.”
“The hangover from a colonial mentality has to stop and WHO will not allow this to happen,” he said. “It was a disgrace, actually, and appalling to hear during the 21st century from scientists that kind of remark.”
Mira has apologized for the remarks.
ROME — Italy’s day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases has dipped again.
The nearly 3,600 new cases that authorities announced on Monday were the lowest day-to-day increase in 20 days. Another number boosting hopes in Italy’s medical community was a small drop, for the third straight day, in the number of intensive care beds occupied by patients with coronavirus infections nationwide.
“Substantially, the data confirms the trend” of a slowing of new cases and “gives comfort that the measures of containment against the viral infection are effective,’’ said Dr. Luca Richeldi, a pneumologist with Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.
Italy now has at least 132,547 confirmed cases, putting it just behind Spain in total known cases. There were 636 deaths in Italy since Sunday, up from 525 a day earlier. But Richeldi said that overall, a downward trend in deaths was holding, showing a decrease of 20 percent compared to a week earlier.
On Monday, Italy marks a month under national lockdown aimed at slowing contagion with the virus.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine received $1.2 million of aid from the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, Ukraine’s president said Monday.
“Grateful to the U.S. for allocating $1.2 million to Ukraine to combat COVID-19,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet after a phone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The aid comes as the outbreak is taking a toll on Ukraine’s economy, with the state budget deficit tripling and incomes plummeting. Ukraine, where 1,319 coronavirus cases have been registered so far, has been in lockdown since March, with the borders closed and the vast majority of businesses not operating.
The country’s government hopes to get a $8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to keep the economy afloat.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s government has approved a plan to limit movement across the country over Easter in efforts to contain the coronavirus.
The restrictions will be in place from Wednesday till the end of Easter Monday.
People will only be allowed to travel to work, do essential shopping or visit doctors. Only family members can stay together for any outdoor activities that will be restricted to take place only within one county.
Slovakia is a Roman Catholic stronghold in central and eastern Europe. The government previously banned public gatherings, including religious services.
The government also approved a renewal of border checks with all neighboring countries between Wednesday and April 17.
Slovakia has 534 people infected, two have died.
LONDON — A host of international stars including Chris Martin, Alanis Morissette, John Legend, Billie Eilish, Lang Lang, Elton John and Andrea Bocelli will perform in a live concert on April 18 to raise funds for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press briefing on Monday, Lady Gaga announced she too would be performing in the concert, calling the coronavirus pandemic “a catastrophe” and said she was praying for all those who were sick.
She made her remarks while wearing thick black-rimmed glasses and a sober plaid tweed blazer over a low-cut top.
“My heart is very achy and warm for those who are ER doctors and nurses who are sleeping in cars to make sure they don’t infect their family,” she said. “We all salute you.”
“I would also like to send my prayers to people who are losing their jobs and are having a hard time feeding themselves and their children,” Lady Gaga said.
She added that in the past week, she and others have raised $35 million for buying much-needed protective gear for health workers, improving lab capacities and further research and development into possible drugs and vaccines to treat the new coronavirus.
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