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.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president says U.S. President Donald Trump has promised Mexico will be able to buy 1,000 ventilators and other intensive-therapy equipment used in treating severe cases of COVID-19.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he spoke with Trump about Mexico’s request to purchase the machines, relatively few of which are available in Mexico.
López Obrador says on Twitter that Trump “guaranteed me that by the end of this month” Mexico could buy 1,000 ventilators and possibly more.
López Obrador calls it a “new gesture of solidarity with Mexico.” He says he suggested a meeting with Trump in June or July to personally express the country’s appreciation.
Such a visit would be unusual, especially if it implied the Mexican leader would travel to the United States. López Obrador has eschewed trips abroad since he took office in December 2018.
MINNEAPOLIS — President Donald Trump tweeted his support for a protest of physical distancing rules by conservatives outside Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s official residence in St. Paul.
His “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” tweet was followed by similar tweets about Michigan and Virginia. Walz says he tried calling the White House about Trump’s tweet but couldn’t get through to the president or vice president.
Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says Trump is encouraging “illegal and dangerous acts.”
At least 400 people gathered outside the Minnesota governor’s mansion to demand relief. Many wore pro-Trump gear but very few practiced social distancing or wore masks. Dozens carried American flags or signs bearing messages such as “Reopen MN.” Others drove by in vehicles bearing signs against the restrictions.
Walz recently extended Minnesota’s stay-at-home order to May 4. He has said the state needs to significantly expand its testing capacity before it can begin relaxing restrictions, even as he has begun coming under increasing pressure from Republicans to move more quickly.
SEATTLE — An influential modeling institute is forecasting specific reopening dates for states shut down by the coronavirus. The recommendations are based on projections for when each state’s infections will drop below one per 1 million people.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says Hawaii, Montana, Vermont and West Virginia could open by May 4, if they restrict large gatherings, test widely and quarantine the contacts of people who test positive.
According to the model, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah are among states that would need to wait until late June or early July.
The institute says state decisions on reopening should be made based on the situation closer to the hoped-for date of reopening. Its projections have varied widely over time, drawing criticism from researchers with other types of models.
The Seattle model is the one most often mentioned by U.S. health officials at White House briefings.
It uses U.S. hospitalization and death data, along with observed trends in China, Italy and Spain to project what will happen next in the United States. Uncertainty is built into any mathematical model that tries to predict the future.
WASHINGTON — Even people who work for FEMA can’t get protective gear.
The union that represents 5,000 employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning Congress about a “desperate lack” of personal protective equipment.
Steven Reaves of the unit of the American Federation of Government Employees that represents the FEMA workers asks members of Congress in a letter to urge the administration to get and distribute adequate supplies.
Reaves tells The Associated Press that 25 of his members have tested positive for COVID-19. The FEMA workforce includes emergency managers, contract officers and safety officials, as well as police and firefighters.
FEMA distributes protective gear to people around the country but Reaves says the people who work for the agency can be vulnerable as well and should be provided with adequate protection.
TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. hospitals are so desperate for sterile gowns to protect workers that some are resorting to having staff wear coveralls, Tyvek suits and ponchos. That’s according to a new survey from hospital consultant Premier Inc. illustrating how fighting a shortage of protective face masks can exacerbate another.
The survey finds companies that make personal protective equipment recently boosted manufacturing of N95 and surgical masks so much in response to pleas from hospital workers that now hospitals are having more trouble getting sterile gowns than masks. That’s because they’re often made from the same type of textiles.
Premier helps its 4,000 hospital members get medicines and supplies at discounts. It said 700 hospitals replied to the survey conducted April 11-15.
ROME — Migrants rescued by a German-flagged charity vessel have been transferred to an unused passenger ferry off Palermo, Sicily, for quarantine in case any are infected with COVID-19.
The Italian coast guard says 146 migrants were taken off the Alan Kurdi and put on the ferry, which has Italian Red Cross personnel aboard to monitor their health conditions.
Four migrants were evacuated previously for health reasons from the Alan Kurdi, which had conducted the rescues in the Mediterranean Sea on April 6. The day after the rescue, Italy banned any foreign-flagged rescue vessels from docking at Italian ports.
Under government policy, rescued migrants who reach Italy are to be distributed to the European Union countries which have previously agreed to share the burden of caring for them. The migrants set out in dinghies or fishing boats launched by Libya-based human traffickers. Italy has one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has begun a slow reopening of the state’s economy with orders that allow retail shops to sell items curbside, open state parks to visitors and puts doctors back in operating rooms after they were banned for weeks from performing nonessential surgeries.
The eased restrictions will be phased in starting next week. The Republican governor announced them after President Donald Trump gave governors a road map for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott says he’ll announce another phase of reopening April 27 but didn’t detail what criteria would be used or what kind of businesses would be allowed to resume.
Texas schools will remain closed at least until summer. Abbott said broader stay-at-home orders designed to increase social distancing remain in effect through April.
At least 17,300 people in Texas have tested positive for the virus, and more than 400 have died.
RICHMOND, Va. — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal court to block Virginia election officials from requiring that absentee voters find a witness to watch them sign their ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of three voters and the League of Women Voters. The lawsuit says the witness requirement could cause “massive disenfranchisement” of Virginia voters.
According to state law, any voter who submits an absentee ballot by mail must open the envelope containing the ballot in front of another person, fill out the ballot and then ask the witness to sign the outside of the ballot envelope before it is mailed.
GENEVA — A top World Health Organization scientist says countries, especially those in Africa, shouldn’t give up hope in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Maria Van Kerkhove is technical lead for WHO’s emergencies program. She says several countries in Europe and Asia have succeeded in bringing the outbreak under control.
Van Kerkhove says, “Containment is possible. It’s going to be a hard fight.“
She says much more needs to be done, including more testing, treatment centers, physical distancing measures and hand-washing stations in places with no running water to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many scientists believe the novel coronavirus is more infectious than the flu.
TIRANA, Albania — The COVID-19 virus is bringing positive warming up signs in the ties between former war foes Kosovo and Serbia.
Kosovo has had help in fighting the virus from the European Union, the United States, Turkey and many other countries, including Serbia. Health Ministry spokesman Faik Hoti says Serbia has donated 1,000 virus tests.
Health Minister Arben Vitia initiated an online call with colleagues from Western Balkan countries, including his Serb counterpart, to coordinate joint efforts in fighting the virus.
A tally from Johns Hopkins University shows Serbia has 5,690 virus cases, and 110 people have died. Kosovo has 449 cases and 12 deaths.
Kosovo-Serbia ties remain tense and the EU-mediated talks on normalizing their ties have stalled since the end of 2018.
Kosovo, a former part of the old Yugoslavia, was liberated in 1999. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade doesn’t recognize it.
ROME — Citizens in Italy are being encouraged to use an app to help authorities trace persons who have come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
The head of a group of consultants advising the Health Ministry says the tracing app is “an instrument of great usefulness.” It can be downloaded for use on cell phones.
Officials believe the app will help authorities to better manage the coronavirus outbreak in the weeks ahead, when restrictions on movements are expected to be gradually eased.
The app tracks down persons who use the app and who have come in contact with another user who has tested positive. The app will pinpoint persons who have been within a certain distance and for a certain time near the infected person. The infected person’s anonymity will be protected and they can authorize a doctor to send a message to users that have come in contact with him or her.
It was developed by Milan-based tech company.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says he’s concerned by a recent jump in COVID-19 cases across Africa.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says in the last week there has been a 51% increase in cases and a 60% jump in deaths. He says due to a lack of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.” Tedros says WHO and partners are working to boost Africa’s testing capacity and that 1 million test kits would be rolled out across the continent starting next week.
Tedros says WHO has been in recent talks with leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, philanthropist Bill Gates and others to speed vaccine production and figure out how the shots might be equitably distributed among the world’s population.
Tedros also clarified WHO’s guidance on “wet markets,” the markets across Asia where live animals and wildlife are often sold for food.
Although the origin of COVID-19 has not yet been identified, many scientists suspect the virus jumped to humans from animals at a wet market in Wuhan, China. Tedros says the markets are “an important source for food and livelihoods for millions of people around the world” but that they have often been poorly regulated. Tedros says WHO is recommending that these markets only be reopened “on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards.”
GOLDSBORO, N.C. — A COVID-19 outbreak at a North Carolina state prison has spread to more than 250 inmates.
State prisons Commissioner Todd Ishee says 259 inmates had tested positive as of Friday at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro. He says none currently require hospitalization and that 98% of those testing positive were asymptomatic. All 700 inmates have been tested but some results are pending.
Ishee said no coronavirus-related deaths have been reported at any of the state’s prisons.
Inmates testing positive are being separated from others, and the state is sending additional medical and security staff to the facility. Prison staff are also being offered tests, and since April 1, their temperatures have been screened upon arrival.
Statewide, prison officials have been allowing some nonviolent offenders out early to complete their sentence under community supervision.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Nineteen nursing homes in New York state have each had 20 deaths or more linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a survey the state released, one Brooklyn home reported having 55 deaths. Four homes, in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, were listed as having over 40.
The survey’s release came after days of media reports about homes so stricken by the virus that bodies had to be stacked inside storage rooms while families struggled to get information about isolated loved ones. Connecticut released a similar list, reporting that eight nursing homes had at least 10 residents die.
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