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  • When it came time to heave the largest aid package in U.S. history over the finish line, Republican Rep. Mark Meadows was the closer, working with Democrats to get it done. He wasn't just any member of Congress. In a highly unusual arrangement, Meadows has been pulling off a balancing act, simultaneously maintaining his seat representing North Carolina in the House while also acting as the de facto White House chief of staff during one of the biggest crises faced by any president in modern history. Meadows is expected to resign from Congress as early as Friday, after which he will formally take over the chief of staff role still technically held by Mick Mulvaney, who never shook his “acting” title. In truth, it was nearly two weeks ago that aides to Mulvaney helped pack up his office and move out of the West Wing, raising questions about who, exactly, has been in charge. “I'm still a member of Congress; Mick Mulvaney's still the acting chief, officially,” Meadows told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. He said he would 'end up resigning as a member of Congress” toward the end of the month. But Meadows' efforts over the last week shine a light on his likely role going forward. While Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland did much of the heavy lifting for the White House in talks about the aid package, Democrats and Republicans said Meadows played a key role in the late stages. The co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus shuttled between Capitol Hill leadership offices and meetings with top Democratic negotiator Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Meadows' role as a compromise-seeker on a bipartisan package marked an unlikely change of roles for a lawmaker who made his name in Congress as the man who toppled Republican former House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. The Freedom Caucus declined to back the $2 trillion stimulus bill, but it didn't oppose it either, a testament to Meadows' ability to soothe GOP objections to the big-spending bill. In the view of one top Democrat, he was “the closer' who knew what was needed to get the bill past the finish line and deliver on the most important variable: ensuring the deal was something Trump would agree to sign into law. Schumer gave a shout-out to Meadows by name on the Senate floor along with Mnuchin and Ueland ahead of Wednesday's late-night vote on the $2.2 trillion bill. Reviled by Democrats and a thorn to Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, the Freedom Caucus has a reputation for attention-grabbing moves that often backfire spectacularly for the party. The GOP's 2017 Obamacare repeal effort was bedeviled in the House by the caucus' stubborn demands. But lawmakers recognize that Meadows has Trump’s ear, and have grown to respect his feel for the House GOP conference. He and GOP leader Kevin McCarthy have also worked to move beyond past differences, although a distrust of Meadows lingers among many Republicans who’ve clashed with him over the years. One Republican close to the talks said that during the negotiations, Meadows worked to push the president's priorities as the package moved through Congress. His involvement also helped temper concerns from some conservatives who remain wary of Mnuchin — a former Democrat and Goldman Sachs banker — and see him as too eager to sign onto Democratic proposals. “Mark is respected by everyone in the House and certainly respected by conservatives in the House. I think he's respected by everyone in the Senate, by conservatives in the Senate as well,' said Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Meadows' best friends in Congress. Trump announced on Mar. 6 — just as the country was beginning to recognize the dire threat posed by the coronavirus — that he had decided to shake up his senior staff and would be replacing Mulvaney as chief of staff. He had been hankering to make the move for months as part of a larger effort to surround himself with loyalists, but waited until the impeachment saga ended to act. Mulvaney and Meadows, longtime friends, had intended to spend the interim period together at the White House to ensure a smooth transition, but those plans were partially scuttled when both men were forced into self-isolation after potential exposure to the virus. Both tested negative. Some White House staffers have described confusion over who was supposed to be running the West Wing over the past several weeks. Some of the murkiness of Meadows' status is deliberate, as his dual status tests the Constitution's prohibition on a sitting member of Congress holding an “office under the United States.” White House aides have pointed out that Meadows is not drawing a salary. But in practice, they have acknowledged that his “in-waiting” status is a technicality until he formally resigns his seat. Meadows' spokesman Ben Williamson said that during the transition, Meadows wasn't doing his job as a lawmaker 'full-time,' but that he remained in Congress because it helped his office function more effectively. When a lawmaker leaves office, the House clerk's office formally manages affairs until a successor is elected. Jordan said he saw nothing wrong with Meadows making the transition to the White House while still in Congress. “He was many times working for his constituents, but he was also looking at the interests of the president, particularly on policy areas and investigation areas, where he thought the president was getting a bad deal from Democrats,' Jordan said, referring both to impeachment and the Russia investigation. Regardless of when the official hand-off happens, Meadows inherits a job that has been dramatically reduced in influence. Trump spurned efforts by his previous chiefs of staff — Meadows will be his fourth — to create clear chains of command and streamline the flow of information and access to the president. For months now, Mulvaney has been largely cut out of the administration's biggest decisions, from coordinating his defense against impeachment to the fight against the coronavirus. “In effect, what's happened is Trump, with Mulvaney's help, redefined the job out of existence,' said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.' He called the current arrangement both “bizarre” and “unprecedented.' “It's clear, three years in, that Trump has no interest in empowering a chief of staff to do the job,” he added. Meadows' allies say he enters the White House with realistic expectations about his role. Rather than attempting to centralize the flow of information through his office — which predecessors have tried to do in an effort to control the impulsive president — they said he intends to focus heavily on the administration's communications strategy and organizing the White House for the coming reelection fight. Meadows, a longtime Trump confidant and sounding board, is known as a policy wonk with smart political instincts. But the former restaurant owner and real estate developer has little experience in crisis management. What Trump needs now more than ever, critics say, is a chief of staff who can tell him things he doesn't want to hear. “In a crisis, like this, that is exponentially more important,” said Whipple. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Thursday that Meadows would make a “great” chief of staff and strengthen the White House's relationship with Capitol Hill. “He's had great relationships on both sides of the aisle, too, so it's a benefit to all,' McCarthy said. ___ Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report. ___ Follow Miller and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller and https://twitter.com/colvinj.
  • President Donald Trump declared that 'I'll be the oversight' as lawmakers were in the final days of drafting what became a $2.2 trillion rescue plan for American businesses. In the end, Congress ensured that won’t be the case. The legislation, designed in part to help businesses and corporations hammered by closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, creates multiple layers of accountability for the billions of dollars in loans, grants and direct cash that will soon flow from the federal government. The House is expected to pass it Friday and send it to Trump for his signature. The new oversight system will test the relationship between the White House and Congress, which frayed after Democrats won the House and deteriorated severely during Trump's impeachment as officials flouted requests for witnesses and documents. Trump’s assertion of responsibility for the coronavirus funds came Monday evening as his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was on Capitol Hill crafting the package in late-night meetings with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had each introduced their own proposals, and Democrats said the Republican bill wasn’t strong enough, arguing that it would create a “slush fund” for corporations. In the end, the bipartisan final package incorporated much of what Democrats wanted, creating a trio of watchdogs, plus other checks, to try to ensure the money isn’t misused. It establishes an oversight board made up of inspectors general, called the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, stands up a separate dedicated inspector general position at the Treasury Department and creates a new committee of experts that reports to Congress. Other accountability measures include more money for watchdogs in multiple federal agencies and requirements that the administration file detailed reports that analyze the flow of cash as it happens. “Whenever you are appropriating over $2 trillion dollars it’s important to ensure the money is spent the way it’s intended,” says Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Peters helped negotiate the oversight provisions with Schumer and the GOP chairman of the panel, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson. “This needs to be outside of politics, that’s the only way it has any credibility,” Peters said. Both Peters and House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., suggested lawmakers could consider additional oversight provisions when Congress passes more legislation to deal with the pandemic. Maloney praised the economic relief bill, but said in an emailed statement said that Democrats “think it could go even further to protect American taxpayers, and we are continuing to examine additional options.' Watchdog groups that track government spending and oversight said the bill wasn't perfect, but provides essential resources as the pandemic worsens. Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst at Project On Government Oversight, said his group is encouraged that there is “more than one lens of accountability” for the businesses that will be receiving the money. “We’re pleased that they aren’t putting all of their oversight eggs in one basket,” Moulton said. Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said she believed that Trump’s declaration that he could personally oversee the process likely ensured that stronger provisions were included. “It showed his hand,’’ Gilbert said. The bedrock of the new oversight is the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which will be made up of independent inspectors general. Modeled after a similar board created to monitor the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program that rescued banks, the panel will have the ability to obtain documents, coordinate audits and identify waste and abuse. The board will report what they find on a central website. Separately, Trump will appoint a special inspector general inside the Treasury Department who will be able to inspect records and review how the money is doled out. That position will be confirmed by the Senate - a process that could take weeks if the chamber stays out until April 20, when senators are currently scheduled to return. Democrats also secured the creation of a Congressional Oversight Commission that will oversee the Treasury Department. Experts on the panel will be appointed by House and Senate leaders. Maloney said “the ideal makeup” of the panel would be a diverse set of experts “to complement the other oversight bodies established under the bill.” The legislation also includes a provision ensuring that bailout funds are not given to companies where a federal official, including the president, has at least a 20 percent interest. Language directed at airlines would block stock buy-backs and limit executive compensation. Oversight groups fret that the legislation doesn’t give the inspector generals panel subpoena power. They also note that Trump will be the one to appoint Treasury's inspector general, a potential wild card. “It’s all very personality driven,” said Scott Ellis of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “(Inspectors general) can be very effective and not so effective.” Negotiations on the bill churned until the end, with Democrats complaining in the hours before the vote that bipartisan language requiring the government to publish weekly lists of companies and entities that gain financing through the bailout funds was left out. Without this language, this information could have been kept secret from public, the Democrats argued. The language ended up in the final version. And though the end product was bipartisan — the Senate vote was 96-0 — the two parties had sharp disagreement. Republican Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said on the Senate floor before the bill was passed that Democrats 'wanted to make sure there was great transparency because they didn’t trust the Trump administration. So they built in an inspector general and additional people to watch the Treasury through the process.'' Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said that Democrats pushed for the provisions to put workers first. Lawmakers need to “make sure money actually ends up in the pockets of workers, not CEOs,’’ Brown said.
  • The Senate passed a mammoth $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic, an unprecedented response amid record new jobless claims and mounting evidence that the economy is in a recession. The unanimous Senate vote late Wednesday came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced. Thursday brought grim economic news as the government reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record, fresh evidence that the U.S. is sinking into recession as coronavirus isolation steps have led to business closures. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a televised interview that the economy “may well be in a recession.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., swung behind the bipartisan agreement, saying it “takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people.' The measure is set for House passage on Friday and President Donald Trump's immediate signature. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed. “Pray for one another, for all of our families and for our country,' said McConnell, R-Ky. “The legislation now before us now is historic because it is meant to match a historic crisis,' said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Our health care system is not prepared to care for the sick. Our workers are without work. Our businesses cannot do business. Our factories lie idle. The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt.' The package is intended as relief for a sinking economy and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that's killed more than 21,000 people worldwide. “This is a unique situation. This is not a typical downturn,” Fed chief Powell told NBC's “Today” show. 'What's happening here is people are being asked to close their businesses, to stay home from work and to not engage in certain kinds of economic activity and so they're pulling back. And at a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control and at that time confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work.” Underscoring the effort's sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House's best guess. Insistently optimistic, Trump said of the greatest public health emergency in anyone's lifetime, 'I don’t think its going to end up being such a rough patch' and anticipated the economy soaring “like a rocket ship” when it's over. The drive by leaders to speed the bill through the Senate was Wednesday slowed as four conservative Republican senators from states whose economies are dominated by low-wage jobs demanded changes, saying the legislation as written was so generous that workers like store clerks might opt to stay on unemployment instead of return to their jobs. They settled for a failed vote to modify the provision. Wednesday's delays followed Democratic stalling tactics earlier in the week as Schumer held out for additional funding for states and hospitals and other provisions. The sprawling measure is the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress and by far the largest. It builds on efforts focused on vaccines and emergency response, sick and family medical leave for workers and food aid. Senate passage delivered the legislation to the Democratic-controlled House, which is expected to pass it Friday. House members are scattered around the country. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the measure would pass by voice vote without lawmakers having to return to Washington. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday his members were on board. “We'll have a debate, and then we'll have a voice vote to bring it up and move it to the president's desk,” he told Fox News Channel. He said that while Democrats inserted things in the bill that didn't deal with coronavirus, ”we will still get this package done for hospitals, workers, small businesses.' “Every day matters, so we want to get this done quickly,” McCarthy said. The package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. It includes a heavily negotiated $500 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including airlines. Hospitals would get significant help as well. Six days of arduous talks produced the bill, creating tensions among Congress' top leaders, who each took care to tend to party politics as they maneuvered and battled over crafting the legislation. But failure was not an option. “This is a proud moment for the United States Senate and the country, and we’re going to win this battle,” McConnell told reporters after the vote. “We've pivoted from impeachment to 100-to-nothing on this rescue package ... this is about as flawless as you could possibly be.” The vote actually was 96-0 because several members missed the vote out of concerns they have been exposed to the virus. The bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. A huge cash infusion for hospitals expecting a flood of COVID-19 patients grew during the talks to an estimated $130 billion. Another $45 billion would fund additional relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local response efforts and community services. Democrats said the package would help replace the salaries of furloughed workers for four months, rather than the three months first proposed. Furloughed workers would get whatever amount a state usually provides for unemployment, plus a $600-per-week add-on, with gig workers like Uber drivers covered for the first time. Businesses controlled by members of Congress and top administration officials, including Trump and his immediate family members, would be ineligible for the bill's business assistance. Schumer boasted of negotiating wins for transit systems, hospitals and cash-hungry state governments that were cemented after Democrats blocked the measure in votes held Sunday and Monday. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Senate package would send less than $4 billion to New York, far short of his estimate that the crisis will cost his state up to $15 billion over the next year. More than 280 New Yorkers have died from the virus, a death toll more than double that of any other state. Still, Pelosi said the need for more money for New York is “no reason to stop the step we are taking.” Pelosi was a force behind $400 million in grants to states to expand voting by mail and other steps that Democrats billed as making voting safer but Republican critics called political opportunism. The package also contains $15.5 billion more for a surge in demand for food stamps as part of a massive $330 billion title for agency operations. State and local authorities would receive up to $150 billion in grants to fight the virus, care for their residents and provide basic services. Republicans won inclusion of an employee retention tax credit that's estimated to provide $50 billion to companies that retain employees on payroll and cover 50% of workers' paycheck up to $10,000. Companies would also be able to defer payment of the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax. 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, or death. In the United States, more than 69,000 people have been sickened and more than 1,000 have died. ___ Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 460,000 people and killed over 20,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 113,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. TOP OF THE HOUR: — Finland restricts travel to and from its capital city. — WHO chief says Trump is “taking responsibility” for virus response. — Tony Awards postponed as Broadway stays dark. ___ HELSINKI — The Finnish government says it will block the movement of citizens into and out of a key southern region that includes the Nordic nation's capital, Helsinki, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus to other areas. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said late Wednesday the measure concerns the Uusimaa region including Helsinki and affects the daily lives of some 1.7 million people, nearly a third of Finland's population. The government made the decision as the 'risk of substantial spreading of the infection from the Uusimaa region to rest of Finland is high' through non-necessary travelling, said Krista Kiuru, the social affairs minister. Police are set to enforce the new regulation, which is set to begin March 27 and end April 19. It will cease all non-necessary human traffic to and from Uusimaa, the region that has been hit worst by the virus. Nationwide, Finland has so far confirmed 880 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. ___ GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian Health Ministry says seven new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip, putting the total at nine. The ministry said Wednesday that the seven cases were security workers who made contact with the first two people infected with the virus. Those two men had returned to the Palestinian enclave from Pakistan and tested positive last Thursday. The ministry said the new patients have been in quarantine since the first cases were detected. The Gaza Strip has been reeling under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, raising concerns about the capabilities of its poor health system to handle an outbreak in the overcrowded territory. About 1,500 Palestinians who returned to Gaza via Israel and Egypt have been placed in obligatory quarantine at hastily set-up facilities. ___ LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County officials say they no longer are including a 17-year-old boy in the tally of coronavirus deaths until they do more to determine his precise cause of death. The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said Wednesday that she’s asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the death of the youth from the desert city of Lancaster. She said that while the child did test positive for the coronavirus, there were “extenuating circumstances that pointed to an alternative diagnosis as well.” The death is no longer being counted among LA County’s 13 total fatalities from the virus. Gov. Gavin Newsom chided county officials, calling the backtrack a reminder that “in this moment it’s not just speed, it’s accuracy that must be front and center.” A report last week by the CDC found no coronavirus deaths in the U.S. among people 19 and under. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's health minister says 15 people have died from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths to 59. Fahrettin Koca tweeted Wednesday that 561 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of infections in the country to at least 2,433. ___ BERLIN — The U.S. Army Europe says it has delivered medical supplies and equipment to help fight the new coronavirus in Italy's hard-hit region of Lombardy. The move, which was part of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency's humanitarian assistance program, saw the 405th Army Field Support Brigade deliver hospital beds, mattresses, adjustable IV poles and other supplies from the U.S. Army Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy. In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Army Europe's commanding general, Lt. Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, said the effort demonstrated “the U.S commitment to our NATO ally and the people of Italy during this crisis.” ___ HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania lawmakers voted Wednesday to delay the state's primary election by five weeks to June 2, potentially past the spike of the state's spreading coronavirus cases. The measure passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he will sign it. As a result, Pennsylvania will join more than 10 states in delaying primaries. ___ PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron launched a special military operation Wednesday to help fight the new coronavirus in France, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries. As part of the new “Operation Resilience,” France is deploying helicopter carriers to help transport patients in overseas French territories in the Caribbean, South America and the Indian Ocean. Striking a combative tone on a visit to a military field hospital in the virus-ravaged eastern city of Mulhouse, Macron paid homage to medics who have died, “who paid with their lives to save other lives.” Macron also promised a “massive” new investment plan for public hospitals, after years of cost cuts in France’s renowned health care system that have complicated efforts to stem the spread of the virus. Facing criticism that his government was too slow to lock down the country as the virus spread, Macron criticized those “who would fracture the country, when we should have one obsession: to be united to fight the virus.” Reiterating that France is at “war” with the virus, Macron warned: “We are just at the beginning. But we will make it through, because we will not surrender, because we have the strength.” ___ BERLIN — Seven German medical associations have published recommendations for how doctors should determine which seriously ill patients with the new coronavirus can be given intensive care treatment when demand outstrips available capacity. The 13-page guide published Wednesday states that 'according to current information about the COVID-19 pandemic it is likely that despite capacity increases already made there soon won't be sufficient intensive care resources available also in Germany for all patients who would need them.' The document, posted on the website of Germany's Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine, recommends not providing intensive care if the process of dying has irreversibly begun, treatment wouldn't result in improvement or stabilization, survival would depend on permanent intensive care or the patient refuses intensive care. The guide, which is backed by six other medical associations, suggests that decisions on allocating available beds may be necessary 'analogous to triage in disaster medicine.' It suggests that survival chances of patients with other serious illnesses should also be weighed and that age alone shouldn't be the deciding factor. About 1,000 of the over 30,000 COVID-19 patients in Germany are currently receiving intensive care. The government aims to double the 28,000 intensive care beds in the country to cope with a predicted increase in cases. ___ ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday ordered Minnesota residents in nonessential jobs to stay at home for two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the coronavirus from overwhelming the state's health care system. The governor's order begins at midnight Friday. He said the restrictions were critical to allow the state to protect its most vulnerable people and give time to build up the state's capacity to handle a flood of infections. “I’m asking for your patience, your cooperation and your understanding,' Walz said in a live video message. “My pledge to you is to use the valuable time you're giving us.” Walz had held off on issuing the order because he wanted to see data and modeling to show whether it would make enough of a difference to justify the disruptions that could last for weeks or months. ___ BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued a statewide stay-at-home order as the coronavirus continues to spread. Little announced the order Wednesday, saying it would remain in effect for 21 days. Idaho has more than 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Idaho has a population of about 1.7 million. ___ GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization commended U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday for “taking responsibility” for leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a virtual press briefing in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the U.N. health agency has called repeatedly for heads of state to lead a “whole-of-government” response to the new coronavirus. “That’s exactly what he’s doing which we appreciate because fighting this pandemic needs political commitment,” Tedros said, referring to Trump. Tedros has previously warned that countries taking measures to lock down their societies must use the time wisely to implement other aggressive interventions, including widespread testing and efforts to track down the virus’ transmission chains. WHO and other experts say it could be months before the outbreak peaks and loosening such controls too soon could allow the virus to resurge. On Tuesday, Trump suggested the lockdown measures in the U.S. might be lifted by Easter and predicted there would be “packed churches” across the country. “I know he’s doing all he can,” Tedros said, noting he and Trump spoke recently. “I believe that kind of political commitment and political leadership can bring change or can stop this pandemic.” ___ NEW YORK — With Broadway shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic, producers of the annual Tony Awards have postponed this year's celebration of American theater. The show was originally scheduled for June 7 but the virus forced all 41 Broadway theaters to go dark and caused turmoil in the Tony schedule. Producers have not yet announced a rescheduled date. Broadway abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows on the Great White Way but also 16 that were still scheduled to open, including “Diana,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Company.” Broadway producers have vowed to resume musicals and plays the week of April 13. ___ BOSTON — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton says he has decided to self-quarantine after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Moulton, a 41-year-old Democrat and former presidential hopeful from Massachusetts, said in a statement Wednesday that he began feeling unwell Thursday, with a low-grade fever and a tightness in his chest he’d never felt before. Moulton said he also had a sore throat, though no serious cough, along with body aches and unusual fatigue. His wife had similar symptoms, he said. Well before experiencing the symptoms, Moulton said, he instructed staff members in his offices in Salem and Washington to work from home, except for two essential workers. The House’s attending physician told him that because the symptoms are minor and a test would not change his treatment, he and his wife don’t qualify for tests, he said. Moulton said that he has been steadily improving and that unless his symptoms worsen, he can end his self-quarantine Saturday. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's president says he believes his country will slow the transmission of the new coronavirus within two or three weeks. In a televised address to the nation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also expressed confidence that Turkey will overcome the coronavirus outbreak 'in the shortest possible time with the least damage possible.' The country has so far reported 44 COVID-19 deaths and a total of 1,872 confirmed infections after conducting close to 28,000 tests. Erdogan said, however, that the country was monitoring a further 53,000 people at their homes and 8,554 other people in hospitals. ___ NEW YORK — A “Top Chef Masters” winner and beloved restaurateur, Floyd Cardoz, has died of complications from the coronavirus. He was 59. A statement released by his company says Cardoz died Wednesday. He was admitted a week ago to Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, New Jersey, with a fever and subsequently tested positive for the virus. The chef won season three of Bravo's “Top Chef Masters” in 2011. He was a partner in three restaurants in his native Mumbai. In addition, he and famed restaurateur Danny Meyer operated the popular Manhattan eatery Tabla in the early 2000s. It closed in 2010. ___ THESSALONIKI, Greece — Staying at home is bad for Greece's drains. Authorities in the country's second-largest city, Thessaloniki, say residents are straining the drainage system by flushing virus-related items down the toilet. 'We are advising the public not to dispose of ... antiseptic wipes, disposable gloves, and even masks — products recently consumed for personal safety against the COVID-19 virus,' the city's water authority said in a statement. 'These items combined with fats and oils can cause a blockage in pipes, at pumping stations, and at sewage facilities at a time when the company is operating with security personnel to safeguard the health of its employees.' Drainage pipes tend to be narrow in Greek cities, with used toilet paper commonly collected in small bathroom trash bins and not flushed down the toilet. ___ ALMASFUZITO, Hungary — Hungary's oil and gas company has refitted a production line normally used for making windshield washer fluid to instead produce liquid hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants. MOL said Wednesday that it is producing 50,000 liters (13,210 gallons) of the fluids daily at its refinery in Almasfuzito. MOL, which operates in 30 countries and has 26,000 employees, says it will also start making similar products at its facilities in Slovakia and Croatia. ___ JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's police minister says dog-walking is banned during the country's three-week lockdown that begins Friday to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Bheki Cele also said people can't go running, contradicting the health minister's comments earlier in the day. And Cele warned South Africans to essentially stay sober for 21 days, emphasizing that alcohol sales are prohibited. The military and police will patrol to regulate movement, and all ports of entry are now closed. South Africa has the most COVID-19 cases in Africa with more than 700. ___ LONDON — Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary has died after contracting the new coronavirus. The Foreign Office says Steven Dick, who was 37, died Tuesday in Hungary. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was “desperately saddened by the news.” Dick previously served in U.K. diplomatic posts in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and had been based in Budapest since late last year. Dick’s parents said he had long dreamed of becoming a diplomat and “was very happy representing our country overseas. We are devastated by his loss.”
  • The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. TOP OF THE HOUR: — South Korea’s central bank to temporarily provide “unlimited” money to eligible banks, financial institutions — Japan setting up task force to discuss coronavirus measures, emergency responses — Western Australia wants residents on cruise ship to isolate on resort island — Alaska Airlines to reduce flights by 70%, cut pay to its CEO and president to zero ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s central bank says it will temporarily provide an “unlimited” amount of money to eligible banks and other financial institutions for three months through repurchase agreements as it tries to calm financial markets rattled by the global coronavirus crisis. The Bank of Korea on Thursday said the measure was unprecedented but didn’t provide an estimate on how much money would be supplied to financial markets through the short-term borrowings. The bank last week executed an emergency rate cut of 0.5 percentage points to help ease the economic fallout from the coronavirus, which brought its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.75%. Some experts say it’s unclear whether traditional financial tools to boost money supplies would be effective now when the global pandemic has damaged both supply and demand, decimating industrial hubs in China and Italy and forcing millions to stay at home under tightened quarantines. ___ TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is setting up a special task force to discuss coronavirus measures and emergency responses as the government now considers the spread of the COVID-19 virus rampant in the country, officials said Thursday. The meeting is backed by a special law enacted earlier this month to allow Abe to declare a state of emergency. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said ministers in Abe’s Cabinet accepted the latest assessment submitted by a government-commissioned experts’ panel that the coronavirus outbreak in Japan is feared to have been widespread in the country. Nationwide, Japan had 93 new cases on Wednesday, including 41 in Tokyo alone. The number has doubled from past few weeks, amid a rise of untraceable infections in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities, while a growing number of cases were brought in from abroad, Kato said. A sharp increase prompted alarmed Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to hold an emergency news conference Wednesday to ask Tokyo residents to work from home as much as possible and stay home during the coming weekend, suggesting a possible so-called “lockdown” if the infection turns “explosive.” Japan as of Wednesday has 2,003 confirmed cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 55 deaths. ___ CANBERRA, Australia — The Western Australia state government says it only wants to isolate its own residents on a resort island for 14 days and wants hundreds of other Australians and foreigners aboard a cruise ship due to dock soon to fly home. State Premier Mark McGowan said Thursday that dealing with three cruise ships hoping to dock at the port town of Fremantle is “extremely complicated.” The Vasco da Gama has been asked to delay its arrival at Fremantle from Friday to Monday to allow time to prepare Rottnest Island, a 24-kilometer (15-mile) ferry journey away, as a quarantine center for the 200 Western Australians aboard. McGowan says he wants the other 1,300 passengers and crew -- including 600 Australians -- to remain on board until they can fly directly home. The state government is dealing with other governments to arrange that. No cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed on the Vasco da Gama, but seven COVID-19 cases have been confirmed on another cruise ship off the Australian west coast, Artania. A third ship, Magnifica, is anchored off the west coast and has not reported illness. Magnifica left Fremantle on Tuesday, but has since been told by the United Arab Emirates that it can’t dock in Dubai. The Artania and Magnifica have almost 3,000 passengers and crew on board but no Australians. “No one will be disembarking at Fremantle unless a passenger is in a life-threatening emergency,” McGowan said. McGowan wants any medical cases that must come ashore to be taken to an Australian military base. ___ SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines will reduce flights by 70% in April and May and cut pay to its CEO and president to zero through September to conserve cash amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Seattle-based airline said Wednesday that like other airlines they are seeing demand for flights drop by more than 80% and flight schedules for June and beyond will be based on demand. 'These actions are unprecedented, but these are truly unprecedented times,' Alaska CEO Brad Tilden said in a news release. Additionally, Alaska plans to slash pay by 50% to the president of Horizon Air, and cut it by 20 to 30% for other executives. The company board also will not take their pay. The company has worked with the White House, The Treasury Department, and Congress on a $50 billion aid package for passenger airlines, Tilden said. “As we more fully understand the impact of these provisions, we will add to our plans to manage through this change,' he said. ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 104 new cases of the coronavirus and five more deaths, bringing its totals to 9,241 infections and 131 deaths. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention said Thursday that 30 of the new cases were linked to recent arrivals. Health authorities have been scrambling to prevent the virus from re-entering as an increasing number of South Koreans return from Europe and the United States amid broadening outbreaks and suspended school years. From Friday, the country will enforce 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals and foreigners with long-term stay visas arriving from the United States. Similar measures have already been applied to passengers arriving from Europe. South Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Thursday ordered officials to employ a “no-tolerance” policy on those who disobey quarantines, saying that South Korean nationals would be sued and foreigners would be expelled. ___ PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — Trinidad & Tobago is reporting its first death from the coronavirus. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said late Wednesday that the patient was an elderly man with a pre-existing medical condition. The twin-island nation of 1.4 million people has more than 50 confirmed cases. The oil- and gas-rich nation shuttered its borders earlier this week and has refused entry to everyone, including Trinidadians now stuck abroad. ___ MADRID — Spain’s Parliament has voted in favor of the government’s request to extend the state of emergency by two weeks that has allowed it to apply a national lockdown in hopes of stemming its coronavirus outbreak. The parliamentary endorsement will allow the government to extend the strict stay-at-home rules and business closings for a full month. The government declared a state of emergency on March 14. It will now last until April 11. Spain’s government solicited the two-week extension after deaths and infections from the COVID-19 virus have skyrocketed in recent days. Spain 47,600 total cases. Its 3,434 deaths only trail Italy’s death toll as the hardest-hit countries in the world. The parliament met with fewer than 50 of its 350 members in the chamber, with the rest voting from home to reduce the risk of contagion. ___ BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission on Thursday reported 67 new COVID-19 cases, all of which it says were imported infections in recent arrivals from abroad. Once again, there were no new cases reported in Wuhan, the central Chinese provincial capital where the coronavirus emerged in December. After a months-long lockdown, Wuhan residents are allowed out of the city but cannot leave Hubei province until April 8. China has started lifting the last of the controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes. As outbreaks escalate in the United States and Europe, China’s ruling Communist Party has declared victory over the epidemic and is relaxing restrictions to revive the economy. ___ WASHINGTON — District of Columbia health officials announced 48 new positive infections from the coronavirus, including a 2-month-old boy, bringing the total up to 231. Officials also announced Washington’s third death from the virus, a 75-year-old woman. Officials in Washington have long predicted that infection numbers would spike as testing became more available. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close. White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed. Police have blocked off dozens of streets, bridges and traffic circles to prevent crowds coming to see Washington’s signature blooming cherry blossom trees. ___ WASHINGTON — A U.S. Marine has become the first person stationed at the Pentagon to test positive for coronavirus. The Marine has been in isolation at home since March 13, when a member of his immediate family began to show symptoms. The Pentagon said his workspace has been cleaned and a contact investigation is underway. Two other defense workers who had visited the Pentagon have tested positive, but they were not assigned to the building. ___ DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Polis said he is taking this “extreme measure,” effective Thursday until April 11 because restrictions taken to date haven't done enough to reduce the spread of the virus. People should only leave home when they absolutely must, he said, for grocery shopping, to seek medical care or to care for dependents. Polis' order comes after six Colorado counties issued stay-at-home orders affecting nearly 3 million people. More than 1,086 people in Colorado have tested positive for the virus and at least 20 people have died. — WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has halted for 60 days the movement of US troops and Defense Department civilians overseas as a further measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The stoppage is expected to affect about 90,000 troops scheduled to deploy abroad or to return from abroad over the next two months. Some exceptions are allowed, and the order by Defense Secretary Mark Esper will not stop the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as called for in last month’s deal with the Taliban. ___ WASHINGTON — The White House says New York residents who have left the metro area in recent days should self-isolate for 14 days, clarifying guidance announced Tuesday which had applied to anyone who had visited New York recently. Dr. Deborah Birx issued the new guidance Wednesday from the White House press briefing room, saying it applied to “residents of the metro area that may have gone to second homes or other places to reside.” She says: “We’ve asked all of them to carefully monitor their temperatures and self-isolate from the communities where they went just to ensure their own health and the health of their communities.” The New York metro area is now the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., accounting for more than 50% of all new infections reported in recent days. ___ UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is welcoming calls by some groups for an immediate ceasefire to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, and says he sees “a clear conscience emerging” that it’s time to concentrate on the war against COVID-19. He pointed to communist guerrillas in the Philippines announcing a ceasefire from Thursday to April 15 in response to his appeal, and said he was encouraged to see a truce in Libya between the warring parties “holding with difficulties.” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric also noted the humanitarian truce called for by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the country’s northeast to deal with the virus. The group was allied with the United States in the fight against Islamic State extremists. Guterres said at a humanitarian briefing Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority and Israel have also been able to work together on COVID-19, “even if we know the extreme division that exists politically between the two.” He said U.N. envoys around the world are talking to warring parties about ceasefires and he expressed hope that “it will be possible in Yemen and Syria to make serious progress” to end fighting and tackle the coronavirus.
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard suspended her presidential campaign on Thursday, ending a long-shot effort that saw her feuding with Hillary Clinton and raising fears among Democrats that she would mount a third-party 2020 bid. In an email and a video posted to Twitter, Gabbard offered her full support to former Vice President Joe Biden, saying “it's clear that Democratic primary voters have chosen' him to take on President Donald Trump in November. Noting their political differences, Gabbard said she respected Biden and had confidence in the motivations of his campaign effort. “Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart, and he's motivated by his love for our country and the American people,' Gabbard said. 'I'm confident that he will lead our country, guided by the spirit of aloha respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart.” As the coronavirus outbreak continues, Gabbard, a military veteran and a major in the Army National Guard, said she would focus on her continued service, including military experience, should it be needed. “I feel that the best way I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress, and to stand ready to serve in uniform should the Hawaii National Guard be activated,” said Gabbard, who served two tours of duty in the Middle East. During her candidacy, Gabbard appeared often on Fox News Channel and angered fellow Democrats by voting “present” on the articles of impeachment against Trump. Gabbard attracted a sizable following in New Hampshire, where she frequently campaigned ahead of the state’s February primary. Some past supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state warmed to her campaign over time, and she espoused a similar outsider approach to Sanders' 2016 run, which she supported. She was also part of what once was a historically diverse Democratic field and the last of a half-dozen female candidates to depart the race. The 38-year-old American Samoan’s campaign website described her as “the first Hindu to run for president and first practicing Hindu in Congress.” And as one of the youngest candidates in the field, Gabbard outlasted senators and governors who came into the large Democratic primary race with higher profiles. Although she failed to qualify for any stage past the fifth debate, in November, Gabbard was awarded two delegates once voting began, according to The Associated Press’ count, both in the March 2 contest in her native American Samoa. Yet Gabbard’s 2020 campaign was also quick to attract questions from voters. The Hawaii congresswoman has faced backlash for her 2017 meeting in Syria with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government has been accused of chemical weapons attacks against its own citizens. And with a primary challenge looming, she announced in October she would not run for reelection to her Hawaii congressional seat. Gabbard’s decision became public shortly after a public feud with Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. In a podcast interview, Clinton appeared to call her “the favorite of the Russians” and said she believed Republicans have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.” Gabbard responded by calling Clinton the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.” In January, she filed a defamation lawsuit against Clinton, saying Clinton's comments were based on either her own imagination or “extremely dubious conspiracy theories” that any reasonable person would know to be “inherently and objectively unreliable.” Asked to comment on the lawsuit, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “That's ridiculous.” As most of her Democratic House colleagues voted to impeach Trump in December, Gabbard chose to vote present on the two articles of impeachment. Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for Gabbard to resign over the vote and said she wasn't doing her job representing Hawaii. 'Look, I did not take the easy vote,” Gabbard said after returning to the campaign trail. “I took the vote that I felt was in the best interest of our country and standing in the center to be able to bring the country together, to be able to begin this reconciliation that I think is so necessary in this terribly divided moment in our country.' Questions over whether Gabbard would mount a third-party run in November’s general election continued following her feud with Clinton. Even as she was questioned for her present vote on the impeachment articles, Gabbard maintained that a third-party campaign was not something she was considering. “Absolutely not,” Gabbard said in December 2019. 'It's not going to change. My decision won't change, no matter how many times people say it, no matter how many times I get asked the question, it's not changing. I'm running to be the Democratic nominee.” ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • After questioning the seriousness of COVID-19, defying his own health ministry's recommendations and denouncing a “certain hysteria,” Brazil's president is now projecting himself as leading the nation's response to the coronavirus crisis in what has become one of the biggest challenges to his presidency. President Jair Bolsonaro provoked the ire of many Brazilians and even former political allies with his blasé attitude to the global pandemic and insistence on shaking supporters' hands at a protest. One of Brazil's most popular news sites, UOL, reported Bolsonaro had suggested the Chinese government caused the coronavirus outbreak — a claim later voiced publicly by his son, a lawmaker. China's embassy rebuffed the allegations, saying on Twitter they were 'extremely irresponsible.' While countries around Latin America and the world have closed borders, quarantined millions, canceled international flights, and shut down schools, Brazil has done none of these things, except for closing a stretch of its vast border with Venezuela. Flights continue in and out of the country. No lockdowns have been ordered and state governments and municipalities have taken the lead in telling people to stay home. “Coronavirus in Brazil is acting as a kind of catalyst, channeling all this discontent and accelerating the process” against Bolsonaro, said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at the Insper University in Sao Paulo. “When he came out to the streets for the protests, he made a very big, very serious mistake. Now he is trying to regain control.” Faced with a growing backlash, a concerned-looking Bolsonaro, flanked by many of his ministers, on Wednesday gave his first press conference on the coronavirus at Brazil's presidential palace. During the two-hour event, Bolsonaro said he would redouble efforts to fight COVID-19, but did not announce any new measures. For the first time since the outbreak, he thanked lawmakers for their efforts and called on them to approve a “state of calamity,” which would allow the government to spend more than the annual budget allows, with funds going toward health and job preservation. But the press conference conveyed mixed messages about how to deal with the pandemic. While vowing to fight the outbreak, he sat shoulder-to-shoulder with his ministers in a violation of the social distancing prescribed by international authorities. Government officials wore white masks, but several of them, including Bolsonaro, removed them repeatedly when speaking. “As the head of the executive I have to be in the front lines with my people,” Brazil's president said. “Don't be surprised if you see me entering a crowded bar in Sao Paulo, a ferry from Niteroi to Rio or in a bus in Belo Horizonte.” Critics say Bolsonaro's about-face on the virus follows U.S. President Donald Trump's example. But for many, it is too little, too late. Brazil's president had until recently remained largely absent from press conferences, leaving them to ministers or top health officials. Over the weekend, he was seen meeting and shaking hands with a group of supporters. His decision to come into physical contact with the crowd while awaiting final results of his second COVID-19 test contradicted the recommendations his health minister previously issued about avoiding large gatherings. 'How does a man who is possibly infected go into the middle of a crowd?' Janaina Paschoal told fellow lawmakers in Sao Paulo's legislature. “This man has to leave the Presidency of the Republic, let (vice-president Hamilton) Mourão, who understands matters of defense, lead the nation.' Paschoal, a conservative who was once in the running to be Bolsonaro's vice-president, had criticized the president but never before demanded he step down. Multiple members of Bolsonaro's administration have contracted the coronavirus. His top national security adviser, Gen. Augusto Heleno, confirmed Tuesday he tested positive after attending a recent trip to the U.S. along with Bolsonaro. According to online news site G1, more than a dozen members of a delegation who met with President Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago have also received positive test results. So far more than 400 people have been infected in Brazil, and four have died, with officials expecting that number to rise significantly in the coming days. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover. Lawmaker Alexandre Frota, another close ally turned critic, said Monday he has prepared an impeachment request he will send to congress. Bolsonaro maintains a strained relationship with the speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, but it is unlikely congress would consider an impeachment request amid the crisis. Even his intellectual guru, Olavo de Carvalho, a conservative Brazilian writer who lives in the U.S., posted a Facebook message suggesting Bolsonaro was on the wrong course and poorly advised. “From the beginning of his term I told the president he should disarm his enemies before trying to solve any ‘national problem.’ He did the opposite,” Carvalho wrote. “I am sorry. Now it may be too late to react.” On Tuesday and Wednesday night, Brazilians in cities including Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasilia protested Bolsonaro in one of the few ways possible at a time of social distancing: leaning from their windows and banging pots and pans. Some shouted “Bolsonaro out!' On his official Twitter account, Bolsonaro complained the media had failed to communicate a counter pots-and-pans protest in favor of his administration, which took place a half hour later. That demonstration wasn’t nearly as loud or as long, and participants were shouted at by those in neighboring buildings. –– AP reporter Mauricio Savarese contributed to this report from Sao Paulo and David Biller from Rio.
  • The U.S. surgeon general caught the eye of Donald Trump in a tried-and-true way: praising the 45th president on television. At a recent briefing with his coronavirus task force standing behind him, Trump turned to Dr. Jerome Adams and declared the previously low-profile 20th surgeon general among the administration’s “stars” to emerge from this crisis. “I watched him the other day. It was such a fantastic job you did, and I really appreciate it,' Trump said. Trump didn’t specify what media appearance he was referring to. But during the span of a few days, Adams had said that Trump sleeps less than he does but was in better health, echoed Trump’s argument that most Americans should be more worried about the seasonal flu than the new virus and defended the Republican president’s claim that Democratic lawmakers’ politicization of the crisis was, in Trump's words, a “new hoax.” At the same news conference where Trump praised him, Adams scolded the media for “bickering” and “partisanship” in their coverage of the administration’s missteps. “No more criticism or finger-pointing,” Adams said. Surgeons general rarely garner much attention. The most impactful announcement from a surgeon general came in 1964 when Dr. Luther L. Terry told the nation that there was a link between lung cancer and smoking. More recently, they have been in the public eye because their medical advice caused political problems for the president. Dr. C. Everett Koop was at odds with the Reagan White House with his calls for AIDS education for elementary school students and support of condoms for disease prevention. Dr. Jocelyn Elders was fired by Bill Clinton after she affirmed at an AIDS conference that it may be appropriate to promote masturbation to help dissuade young people from engaging in risky sexual activity. Dr. Richard Carmona said after he left the office that the George W. Bush administration tried to 'water down' his report on the dangers of secondhand smoke . Adams, an anesthesiologist, has gained notice during the coronavirus crisis for his eager defense of the president. Days after Vice President Mike Pence tapped him to join the task force, Adams conducted a radio interview where he appeared to stray far outside the scope of medicine to defend Trump's comment at a South Carolina rally that Democrats were pushing a “new hoax” by spotlighting the coronavirus. “I will tell you when he said hoax, he was not referring to the coronavirus,” Adams said. “He said, and this is from his mouth to your ears, he was referring to the way he had been treated by the opposite party in terms of impeachment, in terms of criticizing the coronavirus response so far, in terms of taking every opportunity to bring him down.” Adams also raised eyebrows this week for incorrectly referring to South Korea as an authoritarian country. he was trying to make the point that as a democracy, the U.S. should tread carefully in how it goes about stemming the virus. “We are not an authoritarian nation, so we have to be careful when we say, ‘Let’s do what China did. Let’s do what South Korea did,’” Adams said during an interview on “Fox & Friends,” equating South Korea’s democratic republic with communist China’s unelected government. In recent days, Adams, a 45-year-old married father of three children, has been at the center of the administration's public push to underscore to the young and healthy to avoid gatherings of 10 or more and practice social distancing for the sake of older generations. Adams was dispatched Thursday to do a round of appearances on the morning news programs, conveying the message that people's actions can help save lives and limit the spread of the virus. Later, he joined the president at a news conference where he echoed Trump's praise of Food and Drug Administration officials as “tireless' in their efforts to bring drugs to the market for those stricken by the virus. The White House also says that Adams and other high-profile administration officials will appear in nationally broadcast public service announcements that highlight how Americans can protect themselves and those most at risk. A spokeswoman for Adams said he was not available to comment. It was his relationship with Pence that brought Adams to Washington. When Adams arrived on the job in 2017, he was well-regarded by public health experts and industry insiders and in his adopted state of Indiana, where he served as state health commissioner when Pence was governor. Adams played a key role in persuading Pence to back a needle exchange after an HIV outbreak in rural Indiana among intravenous drug users. After Trump appointed Pence to take over the administration’s coronavirus response in late February, the vice president added Adams. “I have seen him communicate well and organize well and he brings around him a team of people that know things he doesn’t know — always the sign of a good leader,” said Beth Meyerson, a health policy expert at the University of Arizona who worked closely with Adams during the HIV outbreak in Indiana. Others in the public health community say he’s strayed from the traditional role of the surgeon general as “the nation’s doctor' and administration’s chief medical adviser. “Jerome Adams came in with a great reputation,” said Kavita Patel, a Johns Hopkins Medicine internist who served as a senior adviser in the Obama administration. “There was the comment he made about South Korea. At times, it feels like there is a little too much politics in how he’s been speaking about the administration’s coronavirus efforts. That’s where, unfortunately, he loses credibility. The office should not be political.” Adams was a “bright and engaging” doctor while he was Indiana’s state health commissioner, said Charlie Brown, who was the top Democrat on the Indiana House public health committee at the time of the 2015 HIV outbreak in southern Indiana. More than 180 HIV cases were tied to needle-sharing among intravenous drug users who were injecting a liquefied painkiller. Pence, citing law-and-order objections, had resisted calls to allow needle-exchange programs to stem the spread of diseases. Eventually, with the guidance of Adams, Pence came to reluctantly agree to the distribution of clean needles. “He was right on point with those issues that were impacting health care in Indiana when he was here,” Brown added. “But now it is like a different world. It’s unreal. The Jerome Adams that I knew and the one that I see step before the microphone now just does not make any sense.” Elders, the Clinton administration-era surgeon general, said she first came to know Adams during his time as Indiana’s state health commissioner and was quickly impressed. She described him as the type of medical professional who can provide Trump and Pence with sound advice in shaping policy. “His heart's in the right place, he’s a good physician and good scientist,” Elders said. But Elders added that Adams' wading into politics undermines the credibility of the surgeon general’s office. “I don’t think it’s the surgeon general’s place to be scolding the media about politics,” Elders said. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover. ___ Davies reported from Indianapolis. ___ The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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  • 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.
  • 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: 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
  • 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. Earlier this week, Wayne Kent Taylor, CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, said he would give up his salary. In 2018, his total compensation was $1.3 million.
  • A group of protesters ignored a stay-at-home order so they could gather in front of a North Carolina women’s clinic. The city of Charlotte received complaints Saturday morning about people possibly not following Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order. There was a protest at a preferred women’s health center in the Grier Heights neighborhood. “They’re putting our first responders at risk if they have to show up,” Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said. “I just think it’s unconscionable. You can agree or disagree with reproductive health care, but it doesn’t matter. It’s legal. It’s deemed an essential business.”
  • Starting Saturday, the federal drive-thru coronavirus testing site at Lot J at TIAA Bank Field will be waiving the fever requirement. Previously, patients who wanted to be tested had to have an on-site temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher. Instead, patients will only need to exhibit respiratory symptoms or be a first responder or healthcare worker who has direct contact with patients.  While a doctor’s order and appointment are not required, you will be evaluated by a medical professional on site. If you don't meet the requirements, you will not be tested.  If you wish to be tested, you need to follow the following rules:  • Bring your own pen  • Bring a photo ID (first responders and healthcare professionals should bring a work ID)  • Refrain from taking any fever-reducing medicine four to six hours before testing  • Remain inside of vehicle at all times  A maximum of four people per car can be tested.  With long lines expected around the stadium, drivers coming from the Westside should use Bay Street, while drivers coming from the Eastside should use Gator Bowl Boulevard. The site is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, 7 days a week.

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