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The Latest: Trump calls into charity golf tournament

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Donald Trump

President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of White House in Washington, Sunday, May 17, 2020. Trump was returning from nearby Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called into a charity golf tournament broadcast Sunday and promised Americans a speedy return to normalcy that sounded far more optimistic than most experts say is realistic.

Trump hailed the event — broadcast on NBC — and said he’d like to see crowds packing into sports venues by this fall, whether or not a cure for the coronavirus is developed.

He said, “We’re looking at vaccines, we’re looking at cures and we are very, very far down the line,” adding: “I think that’s not going to be in the very distant future. But even before that, I think we’ll be back to normal.”

Experts, however, say finding a cure that fast is far from certain and have warned that easing restrictions too quickly could cause the virus to rebound.

Trump said events would likely resume with small crowds — if any — but hopes that by the time The Masters is played in November, the crowds can return.

“We want to get it back to where it was. We want big, big stadiums loaded with people,” he said. “We want to get sports back. We miss sports. We need sports in terms of the psyche, the psyche of our country.”

The TaylorMade Driving Relief is being played at Seminole Golf Club in Florida to raise money for COVID-19 relief. There are no crowds, no caddies and a limited TV crew, all following social distancing guidelines.

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KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — A Canadian Armed Forces Snowbird plane participating in a cross-country tour aimed at boosting the morale of Canadians struggling with the pandemic has crashed in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia.

The Department of National Defense confirmed Sunday’s crash and the Kamloops Airport said emergency crews were responding.

The Snowbirds are Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was killed or injured.

Operation Inspiration started in Nova Scotia earlier this month and features the team’s signature nine-jet formation. It was aimed at boosting morale amid the pandemic.

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Businesses that defy Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order could face a misdemeanor under emergency rules his administration has filed.

The change took effect Friday when the rules were filed, but legislators on a bipartisan committee have the chance to review it on Wednesday.

If they don’t reject it, it’ll remain in effect for 150 days. Class A misdemeanors are punished by a fine between $75 and $2,500.

The Pritzker’s administration’s general counsel Ann Spillane likens it to a traffic ticket. However, some Republicans called it an overreach of Pritzker’s powers.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greeted hundreds of supporters — and joined some in a series of push-ups — who gathered before the presidential offices Sunday to back his open-the-economy drive even as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the country.

Demonstrators in Brasilia and Sao Paulo defied local stay-at-home orders to join the pro-Bolsonaro rallies at a time when the president is facing increasing pressure over his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 15,000 Brazilians.

“We hope to be free of this question soon, for the good of all of us,” Bolsonaro told the crowd in Brasilia. “Brazil will come back stronger.”

Bolsonaro later invited a group of about 20 paratroopers, who were taking part in the protest, to join him on the stoop of the presidential office. The men, wearing camouflage trousers, black Bolsonaro T-shirts and red berets, swore allegiance to the president and his family, stretching their right arms, before some joined him in a series of push-ups.

Supporters have gathered daily at the presidential residence, with larger crowds turning out on weekends.

Some display banners denouncing Congress and the Supreme Court, which they believe are part of a plot to derail Bolsonaro’s presidency.

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NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo got tested for coronavirus on live TV Sunday as he announced all people in the state experiencing flu-like symptoms are now eligible for tests.

Any New Yorkers experiencing flu-like symptoms or those who will be returning to work as part of phased reopenings across the state can now get tested, Cuomo said.

The state is expanding eligibility as it deals with a surplus of testing capacity. Cuomo said drive-thru and walk-in testing sites are performing about one-third of the 15,000 tests they’re capable of each day.

In all, the state is testing about 40,000 people per day.

An agreement with CVS will allow samples to be collected at more than 60 pharmacies across the state, Cuomo said. Testing in New York City is being expanded to 123 CityMD walk-in clinics.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also made an urgent appeal Sunday for blood donations, saying coronavirus-related blood drive cancellations have led supplies to dwindle to about two days’ worth, which could mean postponing some surgeries.

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WASHINGTON — One of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers is criticizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s early response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it “let the country down” after initial delays with testing.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro declined to say when asked Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether Trump had confidence in the CDC to lead the U.S. pandemic response, saying that was a question for the president.

But Navarro says the CDC “set us back” in the early weeks of the outbreak.

CDC struggled to develop its own diagnostic test for the coronavirus in January, later discovering problems in its kits sent to state and county public health labs in early February.

It took the CDC more than two weeks to come up with a fix, leading to delays in diagnoses as the virus rapidly spread.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Sunday said he disagreed the CDC had let the nation down. He told CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “I believe the CDC serves an important public health role.”

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KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan’s minority Christians attended Mass for the first time in two months on Sunday after authorities allowed them to reopen doors of churches following the easing of coronavirus lockdown in the predominantly Islamic nation.

However, the worshipers were seen adhering to social distancing guidelines at churches across the country.

At one such church in Karachi, Reverend Shahid Anwar preached to a small group of congregants who sat apart from each other adhering to social distancing regulations. Most of the worshipers wore face masks when they entered the churches.

In recent weeks, Pakistani authorities had also allowed Muslims to worship at mosques by following social distancing regulations, but most of them defied these guidelines by closely standing to each other at mosques.

Sunday’s move of allowing Christians to worship at churches came after Pakistan reported one of the highest single-day 39 deaths from coronavirus, raising overall fatalities to 873 and confirmed cases to 40,151. Pakistan lifted the six-week-long lockdown earlier this week in a bid to revive the country’s ailing economy.

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CAIRO — Egypt has announced it will close shops, malls, beaches and parks during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr in an effort to prevent the coronavirus’ spread.

Prime Minister Mustaf Madbouly told a news conference Sunday that during the week-long holiday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a nighttime curfew will be in place from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m. starting May 17. All public and private transportation will also be halted until May 29.

Madbouly said his government intends to gradually ease virus restrictions by mid-June, including bringing back sports activities and reopening restaurants.

Since mid-March, Egypt has shuttered schools, mosques, churches and archaeological sites. It has also ordered restaurants, coffee shops, malls and gyms to close to encourage people to stay home. A curfew is now in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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Britain is reporting that 170 more people have died from the coronavirus, raising its overall death toll to 34,636.

It’s the U.K.’s lowest daily death toll since the day after the country’s lockdown was announced on March 23. Weekend figures are usually lower because reporting lags when compared with weekdays.

Another 3,142 people in Britain tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of total confirmed cases to 243,303.

However, Sunday’s figures don’t give a full picture because some testing data from Northern Ireland was not available as a result of technical problems, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told a daily news briefing.

Britain has Europe’s highest virus death toll as well as the most confirmed cases.

The British government is pumping more money into national efforts to develop a vaccine, by giving an additional 84 million pounds ($102 million) to researchers working on separate vaccine trials at Oxford University and Imperial College London.

Phase one participants in Oxford’s trial have already been given their vaccine dose last week, Sharma said.

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ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health ministry has said 44 more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 4,140.

An additional 1,368 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The total number of confirmed infections in the country of more than 83 million people is now 149,435 with more than 1.6 million people tested.

Turkey ranks ninth in the world for number of confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data, although experts believe the tally around the world is higher than reported.

Nearly 110,000 people have recovered from the disease in Turkey, the health ministry statistics show.

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ROME — The number of people in Italy who died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours sank to 145 on Sunday — the lowest number since Italy’s lockdown went into effect.

That brings to 31,908 the number of coronavirus-related deaths in Italy.

The contagion in the first country in Europe to be hit by the virus also has slowed significantly, with just 675 confirmed new cases, according to the country’s civil protection agency.

The true scope of the pandemic in Italy is believed to be much higher as testing is still restricted mostly to people showing symptoms who need to be hospitalized.

The number of currently infected people dropped under 70,000, while more than 125,000 have recovered from the virus.

Pressure on hospitals continues to ease, with 13 fewer patients in intensive care and 89 fewer people hospitalized — important milestones as Italy prepares to open bars, restaurants, shops and other activities on Monday.

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LONDON — British police say they broke up a rave in a country park complete with a DJ that was attended by dozens of people, who were ignoring social distancing rules because they were tired of self-isolating.

The Telford police force tweeted that officers found a “mass gathering/rave” in the park northwest of Birmingham attended by 70 people on Saturday night.

The event appeared to be planned in advance, and had a DJ set up, police said. Officers reported that a reveler told them they were “sick of self-isolation.”

Police said officers asked the group to disperse and they did.

Authorities have been concerned about big gatherings this weekend, the first since the government eased lockdown rules in England by allowing people more freedom to do outdoor activities. Stricter lockdowns remain in place in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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NEW DELHI — India has extended a nearly two-month-old stringent lockdown by another two weeks with Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and some other key regions still battling to control the rising curve of coronavirus infections.

The government-run National Disaster Management authority said in a statement on Sunday that fresh guidelines will be issued that keep in view the need to open up economic activity.

A government statement said travel by air and metro will remain shut down nationwide until the end of May. Schools, hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, cinemas and places of worship will also be closed nationally.

On May 4, the government eased some restrictions, allowing reopening of neighborhood shops and manufacturing and farming in rural areas. It also resumed running a limited number of trains, mainly to carry the stranded workers.

The Health Ministry on Sunday reported a record jump of nearly 5,000 cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the number of confirmed cases to 90,927, with 2,872 deaths. India had less than 500 positive cases and nine deaths when the lockdown was first imposed on March 25. The number of daily deaths in India is around 100.

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BANGKOK — Thais have been streaming into shopping malls as the country eases another restriction imposed to fight the threat of the coronavirus.

The government decided to allow the malls to reopen as Thailand’s number of new COVID-19 cases dwindled to single digits for all but one day over more than two weeks.

Malls had been closed since March as a measure to combat the spread of the virus. The government will watch to see whether the infection rate remains low before deciding on the next phase of the plan to restore normality.

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