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    Before the Olympics were postponed, Japan looked like it had coronavirus infections contained, even as they spread in neighboring countries. Now that the games have been pushed to next year, Tokyo’s cases are spiking, and the city's governor is requesting that people stay home, even hinting at a possible lockdown. The sudden rise in the number of virus cases in Tokyo and the government's strong actions immediately after the Olympic postponement have raised questions in parliament and among citizens about whether Japan understated the extent of the outbreak and delayed enforcement of social distancing measures while clinging to hopes that the games would start on July 24 as scheduled. With the Olympics now off, many are voicing suspicion that the numbers are rising because Japan suddenly has no reason to hide them. “In order to make an impression that the city was taking control of the coronavirus, Tokyo avoided making strict requests and made the number of patients look smaller,' former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a tweet. “The coronavirus has spread while they waited. (For Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike) it was Olympics first, not Tokyo's residents.” Experts have found a rise of untraceable cases mushrooming in Tokyo, Osaka and other urban areas — signs of an explosive increase in infections. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that Japan is now on the brink of a huge jump in cases as it becomes increasingly difficult to trace and keep clusters under control. “Once infections overshoot, our strategy ... will instantly fall apart,” Abe warned. “Under the current situation, we are just barely holding up.” He said a state of emergency is not needed just yet, but that Japan could at any time face a situation as bad as in the United States or Europe. There was less of a sense of urgency displayed recently when many people visited parks for cherry blossom viewing, and Abe was only hinting at an Olympic postponement. But in a phone call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach last Tuesday, Abe agreed to postpone the games until around the summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. A day later, Koike asked Tokyo residents to stay home weekends until mid-April, saying confirmed cases of the coronavirus had shot up to 41 in a day from 16 earlier in the week. On Saturday, Tokyo reported 63 new cases, another single-day record. Koike said that infections in Tokyo were on the brink of an explosive increase, and that stronger measures, including a lockdown, could be needed if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. ”Is this just a coincidence?' Maiko Tajima, an opposition lawmaker from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said during a parliamentary session last Wednesday, citing Tokyo's sudden spike. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said there is “absolutely no relationship” between the Olympic postponement and the number of confirmed cases. Abe cited experts as saying a big reason for the recent rise is the growing number of cases that can't be linked and a jump in infections from abroad. The prime minister told people to “be prepared for a long battle.” A day after Koike's warning, Abe convened a new task force under a recently enacted special law that would allow him to declare a state of emergency in specific areas, including Tokyo. Japan's strategy has been to focus on clusters and trace infection routes rather than testing everyone. A guideline issued Saturday still says that tests will be conducted per clinical doctors' advice. Experts set a high bar for testing eligibility, allowing them only for those linked to clusters or those with symptoms, because they fear massive testing will fill up beds that are needed for patients in severe need, and cause a collapse of medical systems. From Feb. 18 to March 27, Japan tested about 50,000 people, a daily average of 1,270 — fewer than the national daily capacity of several thousand. There was only a slight increase in the number of tests in the past week. In Tokyo, fewer than 2% of those who sought advice on a government hotline had been tested, according to health ministry figures. South Korea, by contrast, had tested about 250,000 people by mid-March. Abe denied allegations that Japan had manipulated the numbers by limiting tests, or combined COVID-19 deaths with other pneumonia fatalities. “I'm aware that some people suspect Japan is hiding the numbers, but I believe that's not true,” he said. “If there is a cover-up, it will show up in the number of deaths.” He said doctors told him that pneumonia patients with COVID-19 can be detected by CAT-scan or X-rays. Many Japanese experts say testing is not for everyone and should be conducted selectively in an attempt to save hospital beds for those who really need them. “Tests are primarily for people who are suspected of having the virus, and should be based on clinical judgment by doctors,” said Shigeru Omi, a former World Health Organization public health expert who is on the government-commissioned panel. Aki-Hiro Sato, a professor of information sciences at Yokohama City University, said in a recent report that Japan is now likely facing a second or third wave of the virus coming from Europe and the United States. Tokyo has about 430 cases, but Sato estimated an additional 1,000 might have been infected in Tokyo by late March if infections are accelerating at a pace similar to what's happening in other countries. Including asymptomatic or light infections, about 10,000 people might be infected, he said. As of Sunday, Japan had 2,578 confirmed cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 64 deaths, according to the health ministry. About 1,000 have recovered. Under the current law, COVID-19 is designated as an infectious disease and whoever tests positive is routinely hospitalized, but a new government guideline would allow a triage of patients, which would include self-quarantine at home. Right now, Japan has 2,600 hospital beds designated for infectious disease treatment, including 118 in Tokyo, but about one-third of them are already occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to Satoshi Kutsuna of the Disease Control and Prevention Center. Citing the recent spike, Kutsuna said that an “overshooting of infections is just about to begin, unfortunately.” Abe has said the government would secure 12,000 beds and 3,000 ventilators to prepare for a worst case scenario. “We fear a situation where severe patients start dying when the medical system collapses, and we must prevent that situation,” Kato, the health minister, said Sunday on a talk show on public broadcaster NHK. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the country's voluntary national shutdown for a month, significantly changing his tone on the coronavirus pandemic only days after musing about the country reopening in a few weeks. He heeded public-health experts who told him the virus could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps more, if not enough is done to fight it. COVID-19 continues its relentless spread, as the daily number of infections worldwide continues to jump sharply. World Health Organization figures show the increase in new infections is now about 70,000 per day - up from about 50,000 just days ago. More than 32,000 people have died worldwide. The U.S. had over 139,000 infections and 2,400 deaths, a running tally by a prominent university showed Sunday evening. Italy reported more than 750 new deaths Sunday, bringing the country’s total to nearly 10,800 - vastly more than any other country. But the number of new infections showed signs of narrowing again. Officials said more than 5,200 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, the lowest number in four days, for a total of almost 98,000 infections. Here are some of AP's top stories Saturday on the world's coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities. WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY: — The mammoth, $2.2 trillion stimulus package to shore up the U.S. economy during the coronavirus pandemic doesn't provide what doctors, nurses and other health care providers need most: protective equipment. — New York state's death toll from the outbreak climbed above 1,000 on Sunday, less than a month after the disease was first detected in the state. New York state accounts for more than 40% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19. — Risk factors other than age are becoming more apparent. As much as 10% to 15% of people under 50 have moderate to severe symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. — German Chancellor Angela Merkel's handling of the coronavirus crisis meets with strong approval in her country. — Coronavirus pandemic causes tensions in the hard-hit European Union. — Impoverished Somalia has little in the way of health care to battle the coronavirus should the limited number of cases there rise. — The family of John Prine says the American singer-songwriter is critically ill and has been placed on a ventilator while being treated for COVID-19-type symptoms. — Parents who have to report to work are scrambling to find adequate child care. ___ WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover. Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu. One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off. You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how. Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead. TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live. ___ ONE NUMBER: 33: That's Andrea Napoli's age. The Rome lawyer was in top physical shape, thanks to regular workouts, including water polo training, when he tested positive for the coronavirus. He spent two days in intensive care and nine days breathing with an oxygen mask. ___ IN OTHER NEWS: SONG FOR AFRICA: Bobi Wine, a Ugandan pop singer and opposition leader, releases song to urge the continent of 1.3 billion people to wash their hands. PIZZERIA HAILED: New Jersey pizzeria takes out a loan to pay workers' salaries, then finds more people eager to help. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Andrea Napoli didn’t fit the usual profile of a coronavirus patient. At 33, he was in perfect health, with no history of respiratory disease. And he was in top physical shape, thanks to regular workouts, including water polo training. Still, Napoli, a lawyer in Rome, developed a cough and fever less than a week after Italy's premier locked down the entire nation, including the capital which had continued life as usual while the virus raged in the north. Until that day, Napoli was following his routine of work, jogging and swimming. He received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 three days later. Initially, Napoli was told to quarantine at home with the warning that his condition could deteriorate suddenly, and it did. By the next day, he was hospitalized in intensive care, with X-rays confirming he had developed pneumonia. ‘’Unfortunately, you have to live these things to really understand them totally,’’ Napoli said in a Skype interview. ‘’I am 33 years old, in great health, and I found myself suddenly in less than a day and a half in intensive care.’’ For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover. Napoli spent the next nine days breathing with an oxygen mask. During two days in intensive care, three patients in his ward died. He recalled that doctors were out of breath from pushing equipment around, dressed in protective masks, suits and gloves, and exhausted from the long hours and strain. ‘’What I saw was a lot, a lot of pain. It was very hard,’’ Napoli said. ‘’I heard screams from the other rooms. The constant coughing from the other rooms.’’ After another week on a COVID-19 ward, he was moved Friday to a hotel being used for patients recovering from the virus, where he is checked twice a day by a doctor. He still can't breathe properly and oxygen levels in his blood haven't yet returned to normal. ‘’I get tired very easily,’’ he said. ‘’If I simply go from the toilet to the bed, I get out of breath. My muscles hurt because I was actually in bed for nine days, without the possibility of moving. So it wasn’t very simple.’’ Napoli's first concern when the virus struck Italy was for his parents, in their mid-60s, never himself. With two weeks of quarantine still ahead, he is looking forward to the day he can go out for a simple walk with them — something that is still not allowed under Italy's strict containment measures. Authorities on Sunday expressed cautious optimism that the measures were having an impact two weeks on. The number of positive cases in the previous 24 hours increased by just 5.4%, to a total of 97,689. Significantly, the number of patients in intensive care nationwide rose by just 50, less than half of recent days, to 3,906, and the number of deaths are on a downward trend of about 10% a day since Friday, to 756 reported Sunday. Italy still has the most deaths of any country, now at 10,779. ‘’These are big changes, that reflect the fact the health system is responding and of the impact of the measures that have been put in place,'' said Dr. Luca Richeldi, a lung specialist, told the daily civil protection agency briefing. ‘’We are saving lives by staying at home, by maintaining social distance, by traveling less and by closing schools.'' ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Europe’s fractured union came under new pressure this weekend, as Italy and Spain pleaded for urgent European help to withstand the virus ordeal but Germany showed reluctance to plunge into any radical new solutions. The north-south divide that has dogged the European Union for years has resurfaced as the virus has galloped across the continent, claiming more deaths than any other region in the world. “It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation, and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised address Saturday night. Sánchez warned them that a lack of solidarity to share the enormous financial burden of the health crisis and the imminent economic slowdown will put the future of the bloc in danger. “Europe must provide a united social and economic response. We must have evidence that Europe listens and that Europe takes action.” Europeans have shown some signs of solidarity: Germany and Switzerland are treating the sick from Italy and France. Germany and France sent masks and hospital shirts to Italy. And the EU has pledged billions in aid, and threw one of its most sacred rules out the window to help countries weather the virus-driven economic crisis. But given the scale of this drama, critics say that’s not nearly enough. Meanwhile, China and Russia have made a point of sending medical aid to Italy, making some Italians question where their allegiances should lie. Cuba and Albania have sent medical teams too. ‘’Europe must demonstrate that it is able to respond to this historic call,’’ Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said late Saturday. “I will fight until the last drop of sweat, until the last gram of energy, to obtain a strong, vigorous, cohesive European response.' Spain and Italy alone account for more than half of the world's death toll, with hundreds of new victims every day. Sánchez warned that the bloc’s southern members can't bear another round of the hard-love austerity applied in the 2008 recession, when countries like Greece and Portugal were forced to request a bailout and slash their budgets and social services. “We must not repeat the mistakes of past crises, otherwise the next debt crisis risks coming right after corona,” Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel told the Austria Press Agency on Sunday. “We should use the existing instruments before we build new constructions that have long-term effects' on European economic stability. This time, Spain, Italy, France and six other EU members have asked the union to share the burden of European debt, dubbed “coronabonds,” to help fight the virus. But the idea has met resistance. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Sunday that it’s important to ensure that “countries can better carry this difficult task and the extra credit they have to take on.” Scholz said European coordination is essential, but dodged a question about coronabonds. Instead, he stressed that countries are discussing mobilizing money from the eurozone rescue fund created amid Europe’s debt crisis a decade ago, the European Stability Mechanism. “That is a very concrete contribution to solidarity in this difficult situation,” he said. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also appeared unenthusiastic about coronabonds, referring to them as “just a slogan” in a weekend interview with German news agency dpa. That prompted dismay in Italy. But Germany is not alone in urging caution. The Netherlands, Finland and Auave similar reservations about unleashing new aid that would have long-term impact on Europe’s collective finances. Some want to save money in case the crisis gets even worse, and fear a system where frugal northerners eternally subsidize debt-laden southerners. Amid concerns about how the EU will survive this crisis, Scholz insisted it should lead to “more Europe.” In closing borders and retreating into nationalist policies against the spreading virus, European countries have flouted the whole idea of the EU, created in the wake of World War II to avoid future conflict via open trade, and eventually, open borders. Bernard Kouchner, a doctor and former French foreign minister, suggested that EU treaties should be amended to address health emergencies like this one. “This should change Europe,” he said Sunday on BFM television. Noting the failure of EU solidarity, he said, “We will learn lessons from what is happening now.” ___ Angela Charlton reported from Paris. Geir Moulson in Berlin and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.
  • The state finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region, which includes Frankfurt, has been found dead. Authorities said he appears to have killed himself and the state's governor suggested Sunday that he was in despair over the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. The body of Thomas Schaefer, a 54-year-old member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was found Saturday on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt. Police and prosecutors said that factors including questioning of witnesses and their own observations at the scene led them to conclude that Schaefer killed himself. State governor Volker Bouffier linked Schaefer’s death to the virus crisis on Sunday. Bouffier said Schaefer was worried about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.” “I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Bouffier said. “He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.” Germany's federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of largely shutting down public life to slow the spread of COVID-19. Schaefer had been Hesse’s state finance minister for a decade.
  • Older people remain most at risk of dying as the new coronavirus continues its rampage around the globe, but they’re far from the only ones vulnerable. One of many mysteries: Men seem to be faring worse than women. And as cases skyrocket in the U.S. and Europe, it’s becoming more clear that how healthy you were before the pandemic began plays a key role in how you fare regardless of how old you are. The majority of people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. But “majority” doesn't mean “all,' and that raises an important question: Who should worry most that they'll be among the seriously ill? While it will be months before scientists have enough data to say for sure who is most at risk and why, preliminary numbers from early cases around the world are starting to offer hints. NOT JUST THE OLD WHO GET SICK Senior citizens undoubtedly are the hardest hit by COVID-19. In China, 80% of deaths were among people in their 60s or older, and that general trend is playing out elsewhere. The graying of the population means some countries face particular risk. Italy has the world’s second oldest population after Japan. While death rates fluctuate wildly early in an outbreak, Italy has reported more than 80% of deaths so far were among those 70 or older. But, “the idea that this is purely a disease that causes death in older people we need to be very, very careful with,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, warned. As much as 10% to 15% of people under 50 have moderate to severe infection, he said Friday. Even if they survive, the middle-aged can spend weeks in the hospital. In France, more than half of the first 300 people admitted to intensive care units were under 60. “Young people are not invincible,” WHO's Maria Van Kerkhove added, saying more information is needed about the disease in all age groups. Italy reported that a quarter of its cases so far were among people ages 19 to 50. In Spain, a third are under age 44. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first snapshot of cases found 29% were ages 20 to 44. Then there’s the puzzle of children, who have made up a small fraction of the world’s case counts to date. But while most appear only mildly ill, in the journal Pediatrics researchers traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year-old, and that nearly 6% were seriously ill. Another question is what role kids have in spreading the virus: “There is an urgent need for further investigation of the role children have in the chain of transmission,” researchers at Canada’s Dalhousie University wrote in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. THE RISKIEST HEALTH CONDITIONS Put aside age: Underlying health plays a big role. In China, 40% of people who required critical care had other chronic health problems. And there, deaths were highest among people who had heart disease, diabetes or chronic lung diseases before they got COVID-19. Preexisting health problems also can increase risk of infection, such as people who have weak immune systems including from cancer treatment. Other countries now are seeing how pre-pandemic health plays a role, and more such threats are likely to be discovered. Italy reported that of the first nine people younger than 40 who died of COVID-19, seven were confirmed to have “grave pathologies” such as heart disease. The more health problems, the worse they fare. Italy also reports about half of people who died with COVID-19 had three or more underlying conditions, while just 2% of deaths were in people with no preexisting ailments. Heart disease is a very broad term, but so far it looks like those most at risk have significant cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure or severely stiffened and clogged arteries, said Dr. Trish Perl, infectious disease chief at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Any sort of infection tends to make diabetes harder to control, but it’s not clear why diabetics appear to be at particular risk with COVID-19. Risks in the less healthy may have something to do with how they hold up if their immune systems overreact to the virus. Patients who die often seemed to have been improving after a week or so only to suddenly deteriorate — experiencing organ-damaging inflammation. As for preexisting lung problems, “this is really happening in people who have less lung capacity,” Perl said, because of diseases such as COPD -- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- or cystic fibrosis. Asthma also is on the worry list. No one really knows about the risk from very mild asthma, although even routine respiratory infections often leave patients using their inhalers more often and they’ll need monitoring with COVID-19, she said. What about a prior bout of pneumonia? Unless it was severe enough to put you on a ventilator, that alone shouldn’t have caused any significant lingering damage, she said. THE GENDER MYSTERY Perhaps the gender imbalance shouldn’t be a surprise: During previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS -- cousins to COVID-19 -- scientists noticed men seemed more susceptible than women. This time around, slightly more than half the COVID-19 deaths in China were among men. Other parts of Asia saw similar numbers. Then Europe, too, spotted what Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, labeled a concerning trend. In Italy, where men so far make up 58% of infections, male deaths are outpacing female deaths and the increased risk starts at age 50, according to a report from Italy’s COVID-19 surveillance group. The U.S. CDC hasn’t yet released details. But one report about the first nearly 200 British patients admitted to critical care found about two-thirds were male. One suspect: Globally, men are more likely to have smoked more heavily and for longer periods than women. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control is urging research into smoking’s connection to COVID-19. Hormones may play a role, too. In 2017, University of Iowa researchers infected mice with SARS and, just like had happened in people, males were more likely to die. Estrogen seemed protective — when their ovaries were removed, deaths among female mice jumped, the team reported in the Journal of Immunology. —- AP writers Nicole Winfield in Rome, Maria Cheng in London and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Ugandan pop star and opposition leader Bobi Wine, who released a song urging Africa's people to wash their hands to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, is criticizing African governments for not maintaining better health care systems for the continent's 1.3 billion people. In his new song, “Corona Virus Alert,” Wine and collaborator Nubian Li highlight prevention measures against the virus, which now has been reported in at least 46 of Africa's 54 countries. Speaking to The Associated Press about the song, Wine — a popular musician, legislator and presidential aspirant whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu — said it is time for Africa's leaders to channel more resources toward building functional health care systems that serve both the rich and the poor. “For a long time we have been calling out the government of Uganda, like many governments on the African continent that have neglected the health care systems,' said Wine. “They have invested heavily in weapons and invested heavily in curtailing the voices of the people.” As the coronavirus spreads across Africa, he said, “this is the time for them (the continent's leaders) to remember that a functional health care system is not only a benefit for the poor but also the rich, because right now, as we stand, they cannot travel abroad for medical care. They have to face the same ailing medical care to deal with them. And this should be a message to them.” Wine's criticism of Uganda's government has made him a leader of those opposing long-time president, Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the East African country since 1986. Museveni is expected to seek reelection next year and Wine has said he will challenge the president. Since becoming a potent government critic, Wine's attempts to perform and hold rallies have been blocked by authorities. He has complained of harassment and beatings by security forces when they block his public appearances. Authorities accuse him of trying to lure young people into rioting and have charged him with multiple criminal offenses, including treason, which he denies. Many Ugandans are angered by newspaper reports of high-ranking officials seeking medical treatment abroad at the expense of taxpayers while government-run health centers in remote areas routinely run out of basic supplies such as gloves and painkillers. The government spends less than 15% of its budget on health and local media frequently cite corruption in health-related procurement deals. The World Health Organization also has urged African Union members to fulfill a 2001 pledge to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets toward the health sector. The U.N. agency reported in 2011 that nearly all African countries failed to meet that target. The WHO chief has warned Africa to 'prepare for the worst” as the coronavirus begins to spread locally, amid worries that the continent's fragile health systems are not prepared to handle the challenge. The new virus has been slow to reach Africa, but its spread across the continent is picking up pace. Africa has registered more than 3,500 cases, with South Africa registering the largest number at more than 1,000. Uganda has reported 30 cases of COVID-19, mostly people who recently traveled through the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. In recent days Museveni has led the government's efforts to combat the virus, giving broadcasts in which he explains how the virus infects the human body as government health experts sitting nearby back him up. Museveni has closed schools and temporarily banned religious and cultural gatherings to curb the spread of the virus. Uganda's only international airport has been shut down and public transport restricted. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
  • The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdrew Sunday from a military base in the country's north that nearly launched Washington into an open war with neighboring Iran. The K1 Air Base is the third site coalition forces have left this month, in line with U.S. plans to consolidate its troops in two locations in Iraq. A rocket attack on the base in late December killed one American contractor and lead to a series of tit-for-tat attacks between the U.S. and Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups. The attacks culminated in the U.S.-directed killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Coalition forces handed over the K1 base in the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk to Iraq's military, according to a coalition statement. At least $1.1 million of equipment was transferred to the Iraqis as 300 coalition personnel departed. Until last month, there were some 7,500 coalition troops based in Iraq, including 5,000 U.S. forces. Withdrawals are planned “in the coming days” from two bases in western Iraq, said Col. Myles Caggins, a coalition spokesman. He said troops have so far been relocated to other bases in the country and some will head home in the coming weeks, but did not specify how many. He said the two bases are the Nineveh Operations Command in Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city and which was under the Islamic State group's control from 2014 until 2017 — and the Taqaddum military airport outside the city of Habbaniya, on the Euphrates River. K1 has hosted coalition forces since 2017 to launch operations against IS in nearby mountainous areas. Areas south of Kirkuk, and north of neighboring provinces of Diyala, Salahuddin and Nineveh remain hotbeds of IS activity. The stretch of territory is also disputed between the federal Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdish region, which has created security gaps benefiting IS militants. The coalition's presence had at times been a mediating force between the two competing authorities. A senior coalition official earlier this month claimed IS forces weren't as able to exploit the “security gap” between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as the militants did in the past. “That (gap) doesn’t necessarily mean that Daesh is free to operate in the way that they wish,' said the official, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “They’re still pretty constrained.” The coalition official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. U.S.-led forces have already withdrawn this month from the Qayara base in Nineveh province followed by the Qaim base near the border with Syria. All the withdrawals were in line with plans to pull out from bases across Iraq and consolidate coalition forces in Baghdad and at the Ain al-Asad Air Base in the country’s western desert. The plan has been in the works since late last year, the senior coalition military official has said, and accelerated when Iraqi forces proved they were capable of facing the IS threat with limited coalition assistance. Coalition officials said they would still assist Iraqi forces with air support and surveillance, but significantly cut back on training and ground operations, as the limited withdrawal continues.
  • At first, the coronavirus was just a fairy tale, a rumor along the dusty lanes of the displaced persons’ camp that Habiba Ali calls home. It seemed fantastical: an illness sweeping the world far beyond Somalia’s borders, killing thousands of people and sending some of the richest countries into panic. Then Somalia's first virus case was announced on March 16, and one of the world’s most fragile nations staggered even more. Nearly three decades of conflict, extremist attacks, drought, disease and a devastating outbreak of locusts have taken a vast toll. Already vulnerable, millions of Somalis now contemplate a new way to die. “We have been overcome with an extraordinary fear about the disease,” Ali said as she worried about her six children. “And we are even avoiding shaking hands with people. Our fear is real, and we are helpless.” Even as mask-wearing health workers entered her Sayidka camp in the capital, Mogadishu, to demonstrate lathering up with soap and water, some authorities shuddered. Small children mimicked the virus prevention measures, happily covering their mouths with their hands. Somalia ranked 194th of 195 countries in the Johns Hopkins Global Health Security Index for 2019 and scored zero in several areas, including emergency preparedness, emergency response, infection control practices and health care access. The country lacks essential equipment for the kind of intensive care that COVID-19 patients, sometimes gasping for breath, desperately need, Health Minister Fawsia Abikar told The Associated Press. Less than 20 beds in intensive care units are available. Somalia also has lacked the capability to test for the new virus, meaning samples are sent abroad and results delayed for more than a week. Quarantine tents have been erected around an old port in Mogadishu. As of Sunday, all international and domestic flights, except for emergency medical and food cargo, have been suspended. “This is a disease which has overwhelmed more sophisticated health care systems of countries than ours,” President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed warned in a public awareness campaign. A third virus case was confirmed in recent days. The person infected is a contractor for the United Nations at the heavily fortified compound at the international airport where many diplomats and aid groups are based. Somalia's fate depends in part on another, more dangerous authority, the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group that controls or holds sway in parts of the central and southern regions. Al-Shabab often strikes in the heart of the capital, with fighters detonating suicide bombs at checkpoints or infiltrating offices posing as employees. Chances for infection also exist along major roads in Somalia where the group operates a system of forced taxation. While al-Shabab leaders recently met to discuss the coronavirus as a precaution, the group has been hostile to humanitarian workers during past emergencies. Few people expect anything different now. “Lessons from previous epidemics, including the cholera outbreak in 2017, tell us that it’s unlikely they will allow humanitarian partners access to areas that are in need,” the Somalia director for Action Against Hunger, Ahmed Khalif, told the AP. But “they let people seek health care (elsewhere) when they were overwhelmed by the numbers, so we expect a similar reaction.” From his office in Mogadishu where desks have been pushed apart for social distancing, Khalif worries along several lines. Because of a lack of governance over the years, Somalis have thrived on social networks that are now threatened, he said. The warm personal embraces must end, even though some people mistakenly think Somalia’s hot weather will defeat the virus. And some 6 million Somalis live in squalid conditions, many of them uprooted by past disasters. Most are acutely hungry. Hundreds of thousands cling to existence on the fringes of Mogadishu, their homes of corrugated metal, even hanging cloth, jammed side-by-side. Access to water is severely limited. “It’s going to be beyond anyone’s imagination,' Khalif said. 'A widespread outbreak of the disease would be catastrophic to the people who are already vulnerable.” The virus doesn’t discriminate among rich or poor, he said. Elsewhere in Mogadishu, better-off citizens have rushed to stock up on face masks, sanitizer and gloves. “Demand is extremely high,” Abdulkhadir Muse, a pharmacist, said as shelves emptied. ”The problem is that some people are buying and hoarding marks to sell them at a higher price.” Crowds of shoppers mingled in the city of 2.5 million people, some still shaking hands in greeting. The health system is showing strain. Some hospitals in Mogadishu have turned away people with high fevers, several people told the AP, raising the concern about possible stigma that those infected with the virus might face. They spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern about that stigma. “If confirmed, such practices could further discourage patients from coming out and seeking medical attention,” said Dr. Ali Hassan, an internal specialist. Across town, deep in the Sayidka camp, resident Yusuf Ibrahim contemplated being uprooted yet again. Drought forced him from home three years ago. “As displaced people, we are vulnerable,” he said. “If this disease spreads between us, we will suffer.” ___ Guled reported from Nairobi, Kenya. Cara Anna in Johannesburg contributed. ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Iran's president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of authorities' lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic. Syria meanwhile reported the first fatality from the virus in the war-torn country, which has five confirmed infections. State news agency SANA said a woman died upon reaching an emergency room and tested positive for the virus, without saying where it happened. Syria has closed schools, restaurants and nightclubs, and imposed a nighttime curfew last week aimed at preventing the virus' spread. Its health care system has been battered by nearly a decade of civil war, leaving the country particularly vulnerable. Libya, which has also been mired in chaos since 2011, reported another five cases, bringing its total to eight. The country is split by rival governments, each backed by an array of militias, that have been battling over the capital, Tripoli, for nearly a year. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran's beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It's a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing. “Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,' Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.' “This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.” Even before the pandemic, Rouhani was under fire for the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal he concluded with the United States and other world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that prevent it from selling oil on international markets. Iran has rejected U.S. offers of humanitarian aid. State TV on Sunday reported another 123 deaths, pushing Iran's overall toll to 2,640 amid 38,309 confirmed cases. Most people suffer only minor symptoms, such as fever and coughing, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems. It is highly contagious, and can be spread by those showing no symptoms. In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities. But those measures came long after other countries in the region imposed more sweeping lockdowns. Many Iranians are still flouting orders to stay home in what could reflect widespread distrust of authorities. Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Elsewhere in the region, Qatar reported its first death from the new coronavirus late Saturday, saying the total number of reported cases there was at least 590. The tiny, energy-rich nation said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into Doha on a state-run Qatar Airways flight. But since Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that have been boycotting Qatar in a political dispute since 2017, Doha said it could not fly the 31 onward to the island kingdom. “Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future,” the Qatari government said in a statement. Bahrain said it planned a flight Sunday to pick up the stranded passengers. The kingdom said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those still stuck in Iran and warned Qatar that it “should stop interfering with these flights.” In Egypt, at least 1,200 Sudanese are stranded at the border after Sudan closed all its crossings, according to Egyptian officials at one of the crossings. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. Sudan, which is still reeling from the uprising that toppled President Omar al-Bashir last year, has six confirmed cases, including two fatalities. It's one of several countries in the region where the health care system has been degraded by years of war and sanctions. Authorities closed the borders to prevent any further spread. The second death was announced as a positive coronavirus case earlier Sunday, more than two weeks after the person's return from the United Arab Emirates. Sudan’s Information Minister Faisal Saleh said Sudanese authorities are looking for lodging in Egypt for the stranded passengers. He said authorities have quarantined at least 160 undocumented migrants who were sent into Sudan from war-torn Libya earlier this month. Residents in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor say they are providing shelter to the stranded Sudanese. “We have provided food and medicine to the Sudanese brothers,' said Mahmoud Abdel-Rahim, a local farmer. “People hosted women, children and elders in their homes.” Egypt, which has reported 609 cases and 40 fatalities, imposed restrictions on cash deposits and withdrawals to prevent crowding at banks as payrolls and pensions are disbursed. Authorities began imposing a nighttime curfew last week. ___ Aji reported from Damascus, Syria. Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Nearly 705,000 people worldwide – including more than 135,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. Live updates for Sunday, March 29, continue below: Insurers Cigna, Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs Update 11:18 p.m. EDT March 29: Two of the country’s largest health insurance companies said they will waive customers coronavirus treatment costs. Cigna and Humana said they would cover costs, including hospitalizations, ambulance transfers and co-pays, CNBC reported. “Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” David Cordani, Cigna president, said in a statement. “While our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.” The waiver will also include medications and vaccines when they are available, CNBC reported. “We’re taking this significant action to help ease the burden on seniors and others who are struggling right now. No American should be concerned about the cost of care when being treated for coronavirus,” Bruce Broussard, president of Humana said in a statement. Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson dead from suspected coronavirus infection Update 10:44 p.m. EDT March 29: Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented part of Detroit, died from a suspected coronavirus infection. He went to the hospital Sunday morning after having trouble breathing the last couple days and died hours later, WXYZ reported. “He wouldn’t go to the hospital. I kept insisting the last three days. I kept saying, ‘You should go to the doctor, go to the hospital.’ Of course, he resisted,” his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Tough guy.” Robinson, 44, had not been tested for the coronavirus, Crain’s reported. Robinson, a Democrat, was elected in 2018. He was serving his first term in the seat previously held by his mother, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her condolences. “He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come,” Whitmer said on social media. “Rep. Robinson will be missed by many, including me. It was an honor to serve the people of Michigan alongside him.” There are more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to state health officials. Amazon workers plan strike at New York facility  Update 8:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walkout Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. First person in West Virginia dies from virus Update 7:39 p.m. EDT March 29: The first person in West Virginia has died from the coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. An 88-year-old woman from Marion County died, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a release. No other details were released. “We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” department Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in a statement. West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states that have no reported coronavirus deaths. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Trump extends social distancing guidelines another 30 days Update 6:36 p.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal guidelines for isolating for an additional 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were set to expire Monday. Health officials said the rollback would increase transmission of the virus. Trump said last week he hoped to have the country “reopened” by April 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.  Musician John Prine hospitalized with virus symptoms, ‘critical’  Update 5:49 p.m. EDT March 29: Musician John Prine is hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. He was taken to a hospital Thursday and was intubated Saturday, the Prine family said on social media. “His situation is critical,” the Prine family said in a statement. “This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now.” Resident at Maryland nursing home dies from virus Update 5:36 p.m. EDT March 29: A resident at a Maryland nursing home where an outbreak of the coronavirus infected 66 people has died. The 90-year-old man was a resident at Pleasant View Nursing Home. He died Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Health officials said Sunday that the number of cases has not changed. There are still 66 residents who have tested positive and 11 who were hospitalized. The nursing home is seeing staff shortages, as employees are not coming into work. No staff member has tested positive. Country music star Joe Diffie dies from complications caused by virus Update 4:39 p.m. EDT March 29: Oklahoma-born country music star Joe Diffie died Sunday from coronavirus-related issues, according to his Facebook page. His family has asked for privacy at this time. Worldwide cases top 700,000; US cases at 135,000 Update 3:29 p.m. EDT March 29: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus topped 710,000 Sunday, according to the Coronavirus Resources Center at Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases in the United States has now passed 135,000, the website reported. The total number of cases passed 705,000 worldwide, and more than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19. according to the Resources Center. Sunday morning, the World Health Organization reported 638,146 confirmed cases across 203 countries, with 30,105 deaths. Moscow mayor issues quarantine order Update 2:57 p.m. EDT March 29: Moscow’s mayor issued a citywide quarantine starting that will begin Monday, The Washington Post reported. The stay-at-home order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin came after the Russian capital’s confirmed cases of coronavirus topped 1,000, the newspaper reported. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for groceries or to pick up medical supplies, the Post reported. People are also allowed to take out their trash or walk their dogs within 100 feet of their residences, the newspaper reported. Cuomo: Death toll in New York state approaching 1,000 Update 2:02 p.m. EDT March 29: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s death toll because of the coronavirus is approaching 1,000, The New York Times reported. Cuomo put the number of disease-related deaths at 965, an increase from 728 in the last 24 hours, the newspaper reported. The majority of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in New York City. At a news conference, Cuomo said figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, the Times reported. Justin Trudeau will continue to self-isolate at home Update 1:33 p.m. EDT March 29: Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. Trudeau said he will continue to remain in isolation because he was living with someone who tested positive, the newspaper reported. Trudeau said his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, took their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec, the Times reported. Plane evacuating patient crashes at Manila airport, killing 8 Update 12:34 a.m. EDT March 29: An plane on a medical evacuation mission headed for Tokyo crashed at Manila airport Sunday night, killing all eight people on board, The Washington Post reported. One American, one Canadian and six Filipinos were killed, according to Richard Gordon, the Philippines’ Red Cross chairman and a member of the Senate. Details of the medical mission were unclear, authorities said. “There was no confirmation or denial about the situation of the passenger,” Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila International Airport Authority, told the Post. Mnuchin: Expect stimulus check deposits within 3 weeks from Sunday Update 11:28 a.m. EDT March 29: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that Americans can expect direct deposit of their checks from the stimulus bill in their accounts within three weeks from Sunday, CNN reported. Mnuchin also said small businesses should “Go back and hire your workers because the government is paying you to do that.' “(My) number one objective is now delivering to the American workers and American companies the needed money that will put this economy in a position where it get through the next eight-10 weeks,” Mnuchin said. Fauci predicts US could have more than 100K deaths Update 10:30 a.m. EDT March 29: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday the United States could have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths, according to an Associated Press report. Fauci made the prediction while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning. The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,700 cases and more than 2,100 deaths, the AP reported. UK announces 209 more deaths in past 24 hours Update 10:18 a.m. EDT March 29: There have been another 209 coronavirus related deaths in the United Kingdom over past 24 hours, Public Health England said Sunday. That puts the total death toll at 1,228, and there are 19,522 confirmed cases in the UK. US civil rights office working to prevent discrimination Update 9:57 a.m. EDT March 29: Roger Severino, the director of the U.S. health department’s civil rights office, said his department is opening investigations to ensure states do not allow medical providers to discriminate in deciding who receives medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The New York Times, the probes will examine whether providers have been discriminated against on the basis of disabilities, race, age or certain other factors. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Severino said in a statement. People with disabilities “should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement said. Severino told the Times his office had heard from “a broad spectrum of civil rights groups, pro-life groups, disability rights groups, from prominent members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from ordinary people who are concerned about their civil rights in this time of crisis.” India’s prime minister apologizes to nation’s poor Update 9:46 a.m. EDT March 29: India’s prime minister asled the nation’s poor for forgiveness after a nationwide lockdown forced thousands of jobless laborers to walk from cities to their home villages. “I extend a heartfelt apology to all countrymen,” Narendra Modi said in a nationwide radio address, The Washington Post reported. “When it comes to my underprivileged brothers and sisters, they must be wondering about the kind of prime minister they have, who has pushed them to the brink. My wholehearted apologies, especially to them.” Modi’s government announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan Thursday, the newspaper reported. Vietnam plans to halt incoming flights for 2 weeks Update 9:28 a.m. EDT March 29: to a government report released Sunday, Vietnam will halt incoming passenger flights over the next two weeks, CNN reported. Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other locations will also be reduced, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said. Netherlands rejects 600K defective masks made in China Update 8:52 a.m. EDT March 29: Health authorities in The Netherlands rejected approximately 600,000 Chinese-made masks from hospitals after learning they did not adequately protect health workers from the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. Dutch health authorities that represented about half of a recent shipment of 1.3 million masks, according to NOS, the Dutch public broadcaster. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where the only protective equipment that is available does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries,” the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said in a statement to NOS. The number of people who have tested positive in The Netherlands topped 10,000, the Dutch Ministry of Health said Sunday. Mexico tells citizens to stay home until April 19 Update 8:41 a.m. EDT March 29: Mexican health authorities asked citizens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying home until April 19, according to CNN. “This can’t be postponed, it is our last chance to do it and do it now,' Mexican deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said. 'And this requires that we massively restrict ourselves and stay at home.” Health authorities said there are 848 confirmed coronavirus cases and 16 deaths in Mexico. Spain reports record-high 838 deaths in one day Update 7:01 a.m. EDT March 29: Spain has reported that 838 people died from coronavirus in one day, marking a new, grim daily record for the country, officials said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Spain saw more than 6,500 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 78,797. The country’s 6,528-person death toll is the second-highest worldwide, the AP reported. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths, with 10,023, according to Johns Hopkins University. Canadian PM Trudeau’s wife recovers from virus Update 5:36 a.m. EDT March 29: The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Update 4:46 a.m. EDT March 29: President Donald Trump has decided against seeking a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, opting instead to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong travel advisory” for the states, he tweeted Saturday night. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump added. >> See the tweets here The advisory, which now appears on the CDC’s website, “urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” “This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply,” the advisory reads. The states’ governors “will have full discretion to implement” the advisory, the website says. >> See the CDC’s tweets here Nordstrom partners with furniture store to produce more than 100,000 face masks Update 3:46 a.m. EDT March 29: After Seattle-based Providence Health put out a global request for more personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, Washington state manufacturer Kaas Tailored and retail giant Nordstrom partnered together to answer the high demand. As part of Providence’s 100 Million Mask challenge, Kaas and Nordstrom are producing daily personal face masks and face shields at their facilities. Nordstrom recently partnered with Kaas, a Mukilteo furniture store, to make the masks. Members of the Nordstrom alteration teams in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington will be sewing more than 100,000 masks to be distributed to Providence Health in Seattle. Kaas Tailored typically makes furniture for aerospace clients. Founder Dan Kaas told KIRO-TV earlier this week it didn’t take long to setup an action plan after answering Providence’s call. “I said, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ and about five minutes later she texted me saying, ‘Yeah, we want to talk.’ And that was Wednesday, and there was a plan put in place by the end of the day,” Kaas said in an interview with KIRO′s Rob Munoz. In an online video posted to the Kaas Tailored website, Kaas details its new Essential PPE Network Equation, how it’s going about meeting the demands of the mask production and the structure working with other manufactures who also want to help. Kaas Tailored is continuing to make thousands of masks a day, but said it’s working at full capacity and cannot fill new orders at this time. Providence is referring manufacturers in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington that are interested in making PPEs to reach out to Kaas. Manufacturers in other states that want to help make face masks can reach out to the American Hospital Association. Nordstrom will continue to offer additional support to local partners the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute. Nordstrom is also donating 1% of its gift card sales to support community grants and programs during the coronavirus relief efforts. Country singer Joe Diffie tests positive for COVID-19 Update 3:08 a.m. EDT March 29: Country music star Joe Diffie has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on social media. In a Friday Instagram post, the Grammy Award-winning singer said he's being treated for the virus, which had infected about 665,000 people worldwide and more than 124,000 in the United States by Sunday morning. 'My family and I are asking for privacy at this time,' the statement read. 'We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.' >> See the post here According to The Associated Press, Diffie, 61, is best known for songs such as 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun.' He joins a growing list of celebrities and public figures who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Harvey Weinstein, Jackson Browne, Placido Domingo, Britain's Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Samaritan’s Purse helps New York amid coronavirus pandemic Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 29: The North Carolina-based organization Samaritan’s Purse is now bringing relief to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York’s hospital system is already overwhelmed with patients. The group shipped a 68-bed field hospital with a special respiratory care unit Saturday. The organization said an advanced team got to New York on March 27 to begin assessments and prepare the site. “People are dying from the coronavirus, hospitals are out of beds and the medical staff are overwhelmed,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying our emergency field hospital to New York to help carry this burden.” This comes a week after Samaritan’s Purse opened an identical unit in Cremona, Italy. U.S. cases soar past 124,000, including more than 2,100 deaths Update 12:49 a.m. EDT March 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 124,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 124,464 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,191 deaths. Worldwide, there are 664,695 confirmed cases and 30,847 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 92,472 reported in Italy and the 82,057 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 834 have occurred in New York, 189 in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey and 137 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 53,520 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 11,124 and California with 5,636. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Michigan: 4,658, including 112 deaths • Washington: 4,310, including 189 deaths • Massachusetts: 4,257, including 44 deaths • Florida: 4,038, including 56 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois and Louisiana have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • Amazon employees at a New York facility plan to walk out Monday amid concerns about safety as the coronavirus spreads. As many as seven workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Staten Island, New York, facility, CNN reported. “The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager leading the strike, told CNN. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.” The strike could involve 50 to 200 employees, CNN reported. Amazon did not immediately comment. The Amazon employees are not the first to threaten a strike as the coronavirus spreads. Instacart shoppers said they will strike Monday after asking for additional compensation and safety precautions. There are more than 142,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map.
  • The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recovered from coronavirus, she announced Saturday. According to The Associated Press, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau took to Facebook on Saturday night to share the news. “I wanted to give you all an update: I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me with their well wishes. And to everyone who is suffering right now, I send you all my love.” >> See the post here Gregoire Trudeau, 44, tested positive for COVID-19 after she traveled from London back to Canada, her husband’s office said on March 12. Trudeau, 48, and the couple’s three children have been self-isolating and have not noticed any symptoms, the AP reported. As of Sunday morning, more than 5,600 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths have been reported in Canada, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read more here.
  • Nearly 622,000 people worldwide -- including nearly 105,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, March 28, continue below: First federal inmate dies from virus Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: The first federal inmate in custody has died from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday. Patrick Jones, 49, an inmate at the Federal Corrections Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, complained of a persistent cough March 19, CBS News reported. While at the hospital, he tested positive March 20 for the coronavirus. Jones, who has pre-existing conditions, was put on a ventilator. He died Saturday. He was serving a 27-year sentence for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine. More than 10 inmates have been taken to the hospital and at least 60 others are in isolation, The New York Times reported. Instacart employees plan strike over safety fears Update 10:17 p.m. EDT March 28: Instacart employees are planning to strike Monday over fears that they are exposing themselves to risk of the coronavirus and are not being adequately protected or compensated by their company. “Instacart has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers, one that extends years back before our current crisis,” Instacart employees and Gig Workers Collective, an activist organization, wrote in a letter posted on Medium. “Now, its mistreatment of Shoppers has stooped to an all-time low. They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.” Employees are asking for an additional $5 on each order and personal protection equipment provided at no cost, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. It not unclear how many employees would participate. More than 200,000 people work as shoppers for the company, The New York Times reported. The company had plans to hire thousands more amid demand for delivery while people are quarantined and isolating. Instacart announced earlier this week new safety guidelines and said it would increase bonuses for its shoppers and extend sick and quarantine pay. “The health and safety of our entire community – shoppers, customers and employees – is our highest priority,” the company said in a statement, KNTV reported. 66 residents at Maryland nursing home test positive for virus Update 9:07 p.m. EDT March 28: A coronavirus outbreak has doubled the cases in Maryland after 66 residents at a nursing home tested positive for the deadly virus. Eleven of the 66 residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home have been hospitalized, WBAL reported. “Multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department & the facility to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed,” Gov. Larry Hogan said on social media. There have been 10 deaths in the state. US death toll surpasses 2,000, doubling in two days Update 6:39 p.m. EDT March 28:  More than 2,000 U.S. citizens have died from the coronavirus as of Saturday, the death toll doubling in about 48 hours, the Washington Post reported. The time between the first confirmed death and the 1,000th was about a month. There are nearly 120,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins map. More than 30,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins. Columbia Sportswear CEO cuts salary to $10,000 Update 5:59 p.m. EDT March 28: Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has cut his salary to $10,000 while employees will continue to receive their regular pay. At least 10 other top executives took a voluntary 15% pay cut, The Oregonian reported. The company’s nearly 3,500 employees are receiving their regular paychecks through a “catastrophic pay” program while its stores are closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. The stores closed March 16 and will remain shuttered at least another two weeks. Boyle was paid $3.3 million in total compensation in 2018, The Oregonian reported. Infant in Illinois dies from virus Update 4:24 p.m. EDT March 28: An infant less than a year old died from the coronavirus in Illinois. The child is one of 13 new deaths in the state, health officials said Saturday. “There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” state Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.” In China, a 10-month-old died from the coronavirus, the New England Journal of Medicine reported March 18. There are 3,491 cases of the coronavirus and 47 deaths in Illinois, according to health officials. Ireland imposes strict lockdown order Update 3:42 p.m. EDT March 28: Ireland’s prime minister announced a lockdown with strict restrictions in the country Saturday, The New York Times reported. “Freedom was hard-won in our country, and it jars with us to restrict and limit individual liberties, even temporarily,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an address to the nation. As of early Saturday, Ireland had reported 2,121 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 22 deaths, the Times reported. From midnight until at least April 12, Ireland’s residents have been ordered to stay at home except to travel to essential jobs, medical appointments, family care or “brief” exercise, according to the newspaper. Trump goes to Virginia, sends off Navy ship bound for NYC Update 2:49 p.m. EDT March 28: President Donald Trump spoke in Front of the USNS Comfort in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, before the Navy hospital ship before it departed for New York City. “This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York,” Trump said. Trump said the ship would not treat patients with coronavirus, but will provide aid for people with other urgent care needs, CNN reported. “Their mission will be to care for New Yorkers who do not have the virus but who require urgent care,' Trump said. “In other words, they’ll be using this, people will be coming out of hospitals who don’t have the virus and they’ll be on this ship where they have great operating rooms and great facilities and the places in-bound, on land will be where people that have the virus will be.” RI governor confirms 2 deaths, issues stay-at-home order Update 2:06 p.m. EDT March 28: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo confirmed the first two deaths in the state and issued a stay-at-home order, telling citizens they could still make necessary trips for food, gasoline or medicine, the Providence Journal reported. Raimondo also ordered anyone entering the state by any means to self-quarantine for 14 days, she said at a news conference. The governor also said all “non-essential” retail outlets will close Monday until April 13, “These are the first deaths and certainly will not be the last two,” Raimondo said. “This is for me and for all of us, this a reminder of the stakes that we face.” Kansas gov. Kelly issues stay-at-home order Update 1:32 p.m. EDT March 28: At a news conference, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a stay-at-home order for the state beginning Monday at 12:01 p.m. “As we speak, well over half of Kansas’ population falls under a local stay at home order of some kind. Even without the executive order I’m issuing today, Kansas’ most populous counties have already issued local state orders to their communities,' Kelly said at the news conference. “As governor, I left these decisions to local health departments for as long as possible. But the reality is that a patchwork approach is a recipe for confusion in our statewide fight to slow the spread of coronavirus that statewide uniformity will ensure. We’re all playing by the same rules, and it would help prevent an influx of new cases for local health departments, many of which are already stretched to max.” Cuomo: NY presidential primary moved to June 23 Update 12:39 p.m. EDT March 28: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference that the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for April 28, will be postponed until April 28. Cuomo said the prospect of many people congregating to vote in April was not wise. “I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote,” Cuomo said. “A lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the new device on the ballots.” Cuomo also extended the tax filing deadline in the state to July 15. “This is good news for individuals, for businesses. You don’t have to file your state tax return. You file it with the federal tax return on July 15,' Cuomo said. “It’s bad news for the state of New York on a parochial level. That means we receive no revenue coming in until July 15.' UN to donate 250K protective masks to hospitals in NYC Update 12:29 p.m. EDT March 28: United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said the organization will donate 250,000 protective face masks to medical facilities in New York City, CNN reported. The masks will be given to medical professionals “who have been working courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs in the hope that they play some small role in saving lives,” Guterres said in a statement Saturday. UK death toll tops 1,000; Johnson tweets, ‘We’ll beat this' Update 11:02 a.m. EDT March 28: The death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom passed the 1,000 mark, according to figures released by the country’s Department of Health and Social Care. That is an increase of 260 people, with the total at 1,019, according to the BBC. On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “We’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.' Johnson tested positive for coronavirus Friday. “Thank you to everybody who’s doing what I’m doing, working from home and stopping the virus spreading from household to household,' Johnson tweeted. Death toll surges in Spain, Italy Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: Spain and Italy reported record numbers in the death tolls in their countries. Spanish officials reported 832 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 5,690, The New York Times reported. Spain also reported that 12,248 people have recovered from the virus, the newspaper reported. Italian officials said 969 people have died in the past day, bringing its total to 9,134, the Times reported. Trump approves Michigan’s request for disaster relief Update 9:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The White House announced Saturday that President Donald Trump approved Michigan’s request for a disaster declaration. “Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Michigan and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected,” the White House said in a statement. The declaration means federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments, the statement said. Certain private nonprofit organizations also will be eligible for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for areas in Michigan impacted by coronavirus. South Korea says 3 test-kit makers win FDA preapproval Update 8:42 a.m. EDT March 28: South Korea’s foreign ministry said three test-kit makers in the country have won preapproval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The move paves the way for kits to be sent to the United States, The New York Times reported. The ministry did not name the manufacturers but said the preapproval, under emergency use authorization, allowed the products to be sold in the United States, the newspaper reported. Global coronavirus deaths top 28K, worldwide cases near 608K Update 7:35 a.m. EDT March 28: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus hit 28,125 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the three months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 607,965 people worldwide. • The United States has reported 104,837 confirmed cases, resulting in 1,711 deaths. • Italy has confirmed 86,498 cases, resulting in 9,134 deaths. • China has recorded 81,996 cases, resulting in 3,299 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 65,719 infections, resulting in 5,138 deaths. • Germany has reported 53,340 cases, resulting in 395 deaths. • Iran has recorded 35,408 cases, resulting in 2,517 deaths. • France has confirmed 33,414 infections, resulting in 1,997 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 14,754 cases, resulting in 761 deaths. • Switzerland has confirmed 13,187 cases, resulting in 240 deaths. • South Korea has recorded 9,478 cases, resulting in 144 deaths. Japanese PM warms of ‘explosive spread’ of coronavirus threatening urban hubs Update 7:20 a.m. EDT March 28: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a stern warning during a Saturday news conference, urging citizens to prepare for a “long-term battle” as the novel coronavirus threatens an “explosive spread” across the country. The Washington Post, citing Japanese media coverage of the news conference, reported Abe said cases of unknown origin are spiking, especially in the urban hubs of Tokyo and Osaka. “An uncontrollable chain of infection could lead to explosive spread somewhere,” he said. Abe’s comments came one day after Japan recorded its largest single-day spike in new cases of 123, bringing the nationwide total to 1,499 and 49 deaths. Nearly half of those newest cases were detected in Tokyo. New coronavirus cases spike in South Korea following steady decline Update 5:13 a.m. EDT March 28: Following a week of significantly decreased volume, South Korea reported a spike of 146 new coronavirus infections on Saturday. According to the nation’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the new cases bring South Korea’s total infections to 9,478, but Friday’s uptick stood in stark contrast to the fewer than 105 cases reported each day for the past week. On a more positive note, the country’s CDC confirmed only about 4,500 coronavirus patients remain isolated for treatment, while more than 4,800 patients have been deemed recovered and discharged from isolation. Italy’s coronavirus cases surpass those in China Update 5:07 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Italy has reached 86,498, making it the second nation in as many days to surpass China’s total of 81,946. The United States eclipsed China’s infection total on Thursday – and currently reports slightly under 105,000 confirmed cases – but Italy’s death toll continues to climb as the outbreak ravages Europe.  Health officials confirmed 969 virus-related deaths in Italy on Friday, alone, making it the largest single-day death toll recorded by an country since the pandemic began. To date, the nation has reported a total of 9,134 fatalities, followed by Spain with 5,138 deaths and China with 3,295. U.S. Navy locks down Yokosuka base after sailors test positive for coronavirus Update 3:31 a.m. EDT March 28: The U.S. Navy has ordered a lockdown of its Yokosuka base after recording its second and third cases of novel coronavirus on Friday. The strategic Pacific base houses the Seventh Fleet. In a video posted to Facebook, Yokosuka Capt. Rich Jarrett encouraged residents on base to remain in their quarters “maximum extent possible.” “This is not a time to do lawn maintenance, take the dog for a long walk or go for a run. Time outdoors should be for necessities only and should be conducted as quickly as possible,” Jarrett posted in a Saturday morning update. Ginnie Mae poised to ease mortgage firms’ coronavirus fallout Update 3:18 a.m. EDT March 28: Mortgage firms are bracing for the crunch when borrowers begin falling behind on their payments, and Ginnie Mae sits poised to assist them in weathering the financial fallout of he novel coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. Ginnie Mae, which already guarantees more than $2 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, told the Journal late Friday it will help companies such as Quicken Loans Inc. and Mr. Cooper Group Inc. with their anticipated cashflow interruptions. The agency will leverage a program typically reserved for natural disaster response. Read more here. Duke University develops N95 mask decontamination method to assist coronavirus fight Update 3:03 a.m. EDT March 28: Duke University researchers in North Carolina have developed a method for cleaning used N95 respirator masks, CNN reported. By Friday night, Duke’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory team had already decontaminated hundreds of used N95 respirators without damaging them, so they can be re-worn several times, the network reported. More importantly, the researchers published their decontamination protocol, encouraging other medical centers and research facilities to follow suit. Specifically, the method uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to kill microbial contaminants, CNN reported. Read more here. Trump issues order allowing Pentagon to reactivate former troops for coronavirus response Update 2:40 a.m. EDT March 28: U.S. President Donald Trump issued an order late Friday allowing the Pentagon to return certain troops to active duty in response to the mounting coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post reported. According to the Post, the order allows for the reactivation of former U.S. troops and members of the National Guard and Reserve to bolster the military’s ongoing efforts to help contain the virus’ spread. “Generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement released early Saturday morning. Read more here. MLB, players strike deal should coronavirus cancel 2020 baseball season Update 2:14 a.m. EDT March 28: Major League Baseball owners and players ratified a deal Friday that sets terms should the novel coronavirus pandemic postpone or even cancel the 2020 season. According to NPR, players will be paid $170 million in advanced salaries over the next two months, and should the season ultimately be canceled, the advances will not have to be paid back. Meanwhile, players will receive “service time” credit for an entire year even if they only play portions of the 2020 season. The season had been slated to open Thursday and run through late October, NPR reported. Delta offering medical volunteers free flights to emerging US coronavirus hotspots Update 1:57 a.m. EDT March 28: Delta Air Lines announced Friday it will fly select medical workers to areas of the country hardest hit by the novel coronavirus for free. By early Saturday morning, the company had confirmed free, round-trip Delta flights will be offered to certain medical volunteers bound for Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan during the month of April. State-by-state breakdown of 101,242 US coronavirus cases, 1,588 deaths Update 12:44 a.m. EDT March 28: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 104,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Saturday morning. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 104,661 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,706 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation, including the 86,498 reported in Italy and the 81,946 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 519 have occurred in New York, 175 Washington state and 119 in Louisiana.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 44,635 confirmed cases – more than five times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 8,825 and California with 3,801. Five other states have each confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 2,000 novel coronavirus infections, while Colorado, Texas, Connecticut, Tennessee and Ohio each has confirmed at least 1,000 cases. The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China. CNN’s state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 101,242 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows: • Alabama: 638, including 3 deaths • Alaska: 69, including 1 death • Arizona: 665, including 13 deaths • Arkansas: 386, including 3 deaths • California: 3,801, including 78 deaths • Colorado: 1,734, including 31 deaths • Connecticut: 1,291, including 27 deaths • Delaware: 163, including 2 deaths • District of Columbia: 267, including three deaths • Florida: 3,192, including 45 deaths • Georgia: 2,198, including 65 deaths • Guam: 49, including 1 death • Hawaii: 120 • Idaho: 230, including 4 deaths • Illinois: 3,026, including 34 deaths • Indiana: 981, including 24 deaths • Iowa: 235, including 3 deaths • Kansas: 202, including 4 deaths • Kentucky: 302, including 7 deaths • Louisiana: 2,746, including 119 deaths • Maine: 168, including 1 death • Maryland: 774, including 5 deaths • Massachusetts: 3,240, including 35 deaths • Michigan: 3,657, including 92 deaths • Minnesota: 398, including 4 deaths • Mississippi: 579, including 8 deaths • Missouri: 670, including 9 deaths • Montana: 109, including 1 death • Nebraska: 89, including 2 deaths • Nevada: 535, including 10 deaths • New Hampshire: 187, including 2 deaths • New Jersey: 8,825, including 108 deaths • New Mexico: 191, including 1 death • New York: 44,635, including 519 deaths • North Carolina: 763, including 3 deaths • North Dakota: 68, including 1 death • Ohio: 1,137, including 19 deaths • Oklahoma: 322, including 8 deaths • Oregon: 414, including 12 deaths • Pennsylvania: 2,218, including 22 deaths • Puerto Rico: 64, including 2 deaths • Rhode Island: 203 • South Carolina: 539, including 13 deaths • South Dakota: 58, including 1 death • Tennessee: 1,203, including 6 deaths • Texas: 1,731, including 23 deaths • U.S. Virgin Islands: 19 • Utah: 480, including 2 deaths • Vermont: 184, including 10 deaths • Virginia: 604, including 14 deaths • Washington: 3,723, including 175 deaths • West Virginia: 96 • Wisconsin: 842, including 13 deaths • Wyoming: 70
  • American Airlines flight attendants are sharing their concerns after one of their co-workers tested positive for the coronavirus and then died. Paul Frishkorn, 65, was a Philadelphia-based flight attendant for American Airlines. Officials said he had other health issues that made him a higher-risk patient. On Friday, two separate American Airlines flight attendants told Channel 9 they have major concerns about the safety of employees and customers. They believe the airline should suspend flights for a few weeks to help the nation fight the virus. “They’re completely out of the hand sanitizing wipes, the Clorox wipes that we get on board,” said one American Airlines flight attendant, who asked to remain anonymous. “So, we have nothing to clean surfaces.' Both flight attendants said it wasn’t until this week that the airline limited food and drink service to passengers and allowed them to wear gloves and face masks. They said the changes come too late. In a written statement, one flight attendant said, “I’m scared to bring something home to my family.' American announced a decision Friday to reduce its schedule due to reduced customer demand. A spokesperson said wearing face masks and gloves isn’t recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the airline relaxed the rules to help flight attendants. It also took several steps to reduce flight attendant interaction with customers: Regarding cleaning supplies, a spokesperson said, 'Though these items are in high demand, we are currently provisioning these necessary products to our flight attendants for use while flying.' However, workers said halting service for a few weeks is the only option to keep employees and the public safe. “They need to shut down because we’re carriers. We are carriers,' said a flight attendant. American Airlines officials said their hearts go out to Frishkorn’s family. They also said employees with health issues and most mainline team members can consider a voluntary leave during this time or a voluntary early-out option. Frishkorn joined American Airlines in 1997 and was honored as a Flight Service Champion twice during his career. Statement from American Airlines: 'Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19. Paul Frishkorn joined us as a flight attendant in 1997 and was based in Philadelphia. “Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers. “He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.

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