The Latest: Trump’s message to America is `always be safe’
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— President Trump tells Americans to “always be safe” as country reopens.
— Pentagon says Army reservist dies of COVID-19.
— California gives OK for hair salons in many areas to reopen.
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’s time to relaunch New York City’s economy.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump had a message to offer those who crowded pools and boardwalks over the Memorial Day weekend, defying coronavirus social distancing guidelines: “Always be safe.”
Trump did not criticize the images that flooded cable television airwaves during a Rose Garden event, saying only: “We’re opening up, but you want to be safe.”
Cases are still rising in some states.
Trump also maintained Tuesday, without explanation, that he “can absolutely” force governors to allow churches and other houses of worship across the country to reopen, saying he “will override any governor that wants to play games.”
But he also said that pastors, rabbis and imams “don’t want anyone getting hurt or sick.” And he conceded that “there may be some areas” where religious leaders may “feel that it’s not quite ready.”
He said that’s something he’s OK with, as long as it’s “the choice of the congregation and the pastor.”
LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s governor canceled a planned Tuesday night news conference to detail his plans to reopen more of the state’s economy after he learned he was potentially exposed to the coronavirus.
Democrat Steve Sisolak said he was canceling the news conference “out of an abundance of caution” and instead planned to release a recorded video message Tuesday night from the governor’s mansion offering details on his plans.
Sisolak said he learned Tuesday that a work place he visited last week has since had a worker test positive for COVID-19. The worker was not in the building at the time and the governor has shown no symptoms of the virus in the five days since his potential exposure.
Sisolak said he planned to take a test for the virus Wednesday morning and would release the results when he has them.
The governor’s office did not immediately release details about the work place he visited last week.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state of Washington is implementing safety recommendations to battle a large outbreak of the coronavirus in an agricultural county in the central part of the state.
Yakima County, a major food producer, has recorded nearly 3,000 cases among its 250,000 residents, and infections have moved into its massive farm and food processing sector. Officials said Tuesday that many cases are showing up on farms, in meat plants and fruit and vegetable processing warehouses, where many workers are immigrants.
The big increase in the county came as other parts of Washington are reporting shrinking numbers.
BERLIN — The German government says it has reached an agreement with the country’s 16 states to extend pandemic-related restrictions on interpersonal contact until June 29.
The question of whether to replace the current blanket rules with much looser restrictions targeting specific areas — such as public transport — has caused friction between federal and state governments in recent days.
In a statement late Tuesday, the federal government said states could let up to 10 people gather in public places, even if they belong to more than two households, which is the current limit.ly
Officials said the decision to relax restrictions a month ago hadn’t led to a rise in coronavirus cases, meaning further steps were justified.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says an Army reservist from Wisconsin has died of COVID-19.
The name of the Army reservist and other details were not immediately released.
He is the third member of the U.S. military to die of the virus, and the first since the death in mid-April of a crew member of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier.
Officials said the reservist was not on active duty and not involved in coronavirus-related work for the military.
A New Jersey Army National Guard soldier in late March was the first member of the military to die of COVID-19. In all, 6,118 members of the military have been infected with the coronavirus, of which 3,460 have recovered, according to the Pentagon.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has refused to give in to a Trump ultimatum for assurances about a full-capacity Republican National Convention.
Cooper’s Democratic administration responded with a letter demanding a written safety plan from organizers of the event slated for August in Charlotte. Even local Republican officials note that Trump doesn’t have the power to unilaterally move the event scheduled to start in 90 days after two years of planning.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen’s letter asks Republican convention organizers for a written COVID-19 safety plan “as soon as possible,” noting that Cohen and Cooper discussed various scenarios with GOP officials by phone last Friday.
Cooper said discussions with RNC organizers are continuing.
RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam is ordering that Virginians wear masks while in public indoor spaces, saying the measure is needed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Northam said at a news conference Tuesday that he’s ordering masks be worn starting Friday inside all retail stores, while using public transportation, and in any other indoor places where people congregate.
Northam joins governors in several other states, including neighboring Maryland, who have issued similar requirements.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says barbershops and hair salons can reopen immediately in counties that have been cleared to move faster on lifting coronavirus restrictions.
The governor’s announcement Tuesday is part of an ongoing relaxation of orders intended to help prevent spread of COVID-19. The state’s guidance says customers and workers in barbershops and salons must wear face coverings during hair-cutting and other close-contact services.
Forty-seven of California’s 58 counties have been granted variances to state orders that allow them to move faster on reopening. Los Angeles County and San Francisco Bay Area counties are not among them.
SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean authorities say intensive care units in the country’s hospitals are nearly at capacity amid a flood of coronavirus patients, and some doctors report they are having to make wrenching choices over which patients should get available beds.
Health officials said Tuesday that 95% of the country’s 2,400 ICU beds are occupied, even after a doubling of capacity from the levels in March. They announced plans to add 400 more critical care beds in the coming days.
The nation of 18 million people has the third most coronavirus cases in the region, after Brazil and Peru. An average of 4,000 new infections are being reported daily. About 15% of the cases require hospitalization.
CAIRO — The U.N. food agency is warning that humanitarian aid projects in war-torn Yemen are “reaching a breaking point” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Food Program said Tuesday that it needs $870 million to provide badly needed assistance to millions of Yemenis over the next six months. International donors had slashed funding earlier this year in response to obstruction by the Houthi rebels, leaving a major shortfall.
The appeal comes as Yemen’s devastated health system struggles to contain the virus. Although the internationally recognized government has reported just 249 infections and 49 deaths, the number of people dying with COVID-19 symptoms has dramatically spiked across the country, indicating a much larger outbreak.
WFP says it expects the coronavirus to push “many more children in Yemen into acute malnutrition.”
MOSCOW — A Russian health official said Tuesday that 101 medics have died of the coronavirus, according to data provided by regional authorities.
Health care workers question the official toll and believe that the real figure is much higher. An online list of medics who died compiled by their colleagues has over 300 names.
Russia ranks third in the world behind the United States and Brazil, with over 360,000 infections, including 3,807 deaths.
The country’s relatively low mortality rate raises doubts among experts in Russia and in the West, drawing suspicions that the authorities could have manipulated the statistics and under reported virus-related deaths for political reasons.
Russian officials angrily reject the allegations and argue that the low death toll reflects the effectiveness of the measures taken to stem the outbreak.
DODOMA, Tanzania — Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry says it has summoned the U.S. ambassador to express displeasure over embassy statements suggesting that Tanzania’s government is hiding the true number of virus cases.
The East African nation hasn’t updated its number of cases since the end of April and President John Magufuli has claimed the virus has been defeated through prayer. Cases have been frozen at just over 500 for weeks.
The U.S. Embassy in two statements this month said hospitals in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam are full of COVID-19 patients.
Tanzania’s statement says acting U.S. Ambassador Imni Patterson met with Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Wilbert Ibuge, who expressed Tanzania’s disappointment and said the government is willing to share information about COVID-19 infections as long as it is requested through official channels.
While African nations have been praised for their pandemic response, Tanzania has been the exception.
BRUSSELS — International donors on Tuesday pledged more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in support of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as the coronavirus pandemic deepens their plight.
Venezuela is gripped by a deepening political and economic crisis under President Nicolás Maduro. Refugee agencies have said that the number of people fleeing the country could reach 6.5 million by the end of 2020. Most stay in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The money will help the refugees and migrants to integrate and bolster host communities also struggling with the virus. Relief aid focusing on health, protection, food, water and education will also be financed.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says it’s “extremely significant” that such sums were raised in these coronavirus times for a crisis that he says has recently been forgotten.
The meeting was hosted by the EU and Spain and involved around 50 UN agencies and financial institutions.
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont is preparing to close some of the surge sites that were set up in case COVID-19 infections overwhelmed the state’s hospitals.
WCAX-TV reports that pop-up sites, like the one at the Spartan Arena in Rutland, were designed for non-COVID patients in case hospitals became inundated with patients who did have the coronavirus. The Rutland site, which could handle 150 patients, was never used.
Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says the sites in Rutland, St. Albans, and Barre will be the first to close.
If conditions change, the sites could be reopened.
BATON ROUGE, La. — More than 1,800 students are living on university campuses around Louisiana, even though they’ve been taking classes online and have been encouraged to return home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Advocate report s.
The students include 650 at Louisiana State University, 310 at Louisiana Tech, 50-60 at Tulane University, six at Grambling State, and four at Northwestern State, and they have a wide variety of reasons for remaining.
The reasons given range from being from a state or country that’s become a COVID-19 hotspot, to avoiding home because of abusive or drug-ridden families, officials say.
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’s time to focus on relaunching New York City’s moribund economy after weeks of declining deaths and hospitalizations.
After ringing open the Stock Exchange, the Democratic governor laid out a plan that includes accelerating major infrastructure projects and tackling transmission of the new coronavirus in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
The mid-Hudson Valley, including the city’s northern suburbs, on Tuesday became the latest region of New York state to begin slowly phasing in economic activity. Long Island was expected to follow Wednesday, which would leave New York City as the only region awaiting the start of reopening.
Statewide hospitalization rates continue to decline with about 200 new cases a day. Cuomo reported a one-day total of 73 deaths, the lowest figure since March and down from a peak of nearly 800.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s death toll from COVID-19 has reached 4,397 with 28 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the health minister.
Fahrettin Koca tweeted Tuesday 948 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 158,762.
More than 121,500 people have recovered and people needing intensive care continued on a downward trend, according to the health ministry statistics.
Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases, but experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported. The country ranks 14th in number of deaths.
Turkey’s 83 million citizens are on the final day of a four-day nationwide lockdown. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hoped this restriction to stay at home would be the last round. He’s expected to announce new policies and easing measures against COVID-19 later this week.
The country has opted for weekend and holiday lockdowns in large cities for nearly two months and has kept people above 65 and under 20 at home.
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