By The Associated Press
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:
— California’s Newsom: some businesses can reopen Friday with restrictions to help prevent spread of virus.
— France’s Macron confident that the U.S. will join a global pledge for research to find a vaccine.
— World Health Organization says it has no evidence that the coronavirus originated at a Wuhan laboratory.
— Finland says it will lift some coronavirus restrictions on June 1.
— Number of people currently positive for coronavirus has dropped under 100,000 in Italy.
YUBA CITY, Calif. — Amid more defiance from local governments, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that some businesses can reopen as early as Friday with restrictions to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The plan under the second phase of the governor’s four-point reopening plan allows retailers such as clothing stores, sporting goods and florists to resume operations with curbside pickup.
It did not immediately include dine-in eating at restaurants and reopening of offices, which were in previously stated Phase 2 plans.
Newsom said a key consideration for entering Phase 2 is the ability for health authorities to test and conduct contact tracing of infections.
The announcement came as businesses in two more Northern California counties reopened. Yuba and Sutter counties followed last week’s lead of rural Modoc County amid pressure to restart California’s economy, even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue.
Newsom’s six-week-old order required nearly 40 million residents to remain mostly at home.
PARIS — French president Emmanuel Macron said he is confident that the United States will join a global pledge for research to find a vaccine against the new coronavirus.
World leaders, organizations and banks on Monday pledged to give 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) during a videoconference summit hosted by the European Union. The U.S., along with Russia, were notably absent from the event.
Macron, who donated 500 million euros on behalf of France, noted that the U.S. “are on the sidelines” but added that it doesn’t compromise or slow down the initiative.
Speaking from the Elysee palace, he said he discussed the issue with President Donald Trump and is convinced that the U.S. will at some point join the initiative, consisting in finding a vaccine as quickly as possible and making it available to all countries.
Macron added that his government is in a permanent dialogue with the Trump administration and with American companies.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says it has received no evidence or data from the U.S. government to back up claims by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that they have seen evidence that the coronavirus have originated at a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“From our perspective, this remains speculative,” WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said. “But like any evidence-based organization, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus.”
Ryan reiterated that the evidence and advice that the U.N. health agency has received suggest that the novel coronavirus is of natural origin. Pompeo and Trump say they have seen evidence suggesting that it could be from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
“If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared,” Ryan told reporters in Geneva. “But it’s difficult for WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that specific regard.”
On Sunday, Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week” program that there was “a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
HELSINKI — Finland says it will lift some coronavirus restrictions on June 1 including allowing restaurants, cafes and bars to reopen with certain limitations.
The government announced late Monday that it will also ease a ban of public gatherings, permitting meetings of up to 50 people instead of the current maximum of 10 people.
Public services such as libraries, theatres and sports facilities are allowed to start operating again on June. The government had said in April that schools in Finland would be gradually reopened on May 14.
A ban on large public events with more than 500 people such as concerts and sports events remains valid until July 31 in line with the government’s earlier decision.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin stressed that relaxing of the COVID-19 restrictions would take place “gradually and in a controlled manner” in the Nordic country.
Finland’s borders will remain partially closed. Work-related and other necessary travel within the European Union’s open-border Schengen area will be permitted again on May 14 but with strict guidelines, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said.
MILAN — The number of people currently positive for coronavirus has dropped under 100,000 in Italy — Europe’s hardest-hit country.
As the country began a gradually reopening from a two-month-long lockdown on Monday, the number of deaths rose by 195 to 29,079.
Italy also registered the lowest number of new positives since the day the lockdown took effect, at 1,221, bringing the total of coronavirus cases to 211,938 since the first case of domestic transmission of the virus was detected on Feb. 21.
Pressure on Italian hospitals continued to ease, with 419 fewer people hospitalized and 22 fewer in intensive care units. Three regions — Umbria, Basilicata and Molise — registered no new cases, while most were well under 100.
Lombardy, the densely populated northern region that has borne the brunt of the virus, was responsible for nearly half of all new cases in the past 24 hours.
A Sioux Falls, South Dakota, senior living facility reports 13 people have died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The Argus Leader reports it’s unclear if the virus caused the deaths. But the number is up from seven deaths reported by the Good Samaritan Society at the Sioux Falls Village location on Friday.
Overall, the facility reports 97 positive confirmed cases, up from 90 cases as of Friday. Of those cases, 59 are residents and 38 are employees. The total number of employees who have recovered is 14.
Officials have said residents who have tested positive continue to be isolated from the rest of the facility’s community.
A spokesman for Sanford Health said Monday that the majority of the confirmed cases stem from the skilled nursing facility within the Sioux Falls Village.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has a simple reason for not wearing a face mask during a visit to a southwestern Missouri thrift store.
“I chose not to,” Parson said tersely Monday in response to a reporter’s question.
Businesses reopened across most of Missouri on Monday (except in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City), the day after Parson’s stay-at-home order ended. The Republican governor spent the morning visiting several businesses in southwestern Missouri.
Among them was a thrift shop in Joplin operated by the Disabled American Veterans. A photo posted on Parson’s Twitter account shows him bare-faced but surrounded by mask-wearing veterans.
“I think it’s up to the individual,” Parson said in response to a question during his afternoon news conference. “I don’t think it’s government’s role to mandate who wears a mask and who doesn’t.”
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence chose not to wear a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, an apparent violation of the medical center’s policy requiring them.
AMARILLO, Texas — A Texas mayor says federal help is on the way following a surge in coronavirus cases that’s hitting a key region of the nation’s beef supply.
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson says she expects a “strike force” to arrive Monday in the Texas Panhandle. That’s where infections are climbing and state officials have linked more than 240 cases of COVID-19 to a local meat plant operated by JBS USA.
Outbreaks have hit meat plants across the country. President Donald Trump has ordered them to remain open, while on Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called the plants among “the most dangerous places there are right now.”
Nelson says her community provides 25% of the nation’s fed beef supply. She says her hope is that the incoming help can box-in the hot spots and figure out “why it is our city is having the numbers that we’re having.”
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council is backing Lebanon’s efforts to end the country’s economic crisis and tackle other challenges including the impact of COVID-19 and is calling on the international community to help.
The U.N.’s most powerful body took note in a statement after a closed meeting Monday of the “urgent need for the Lebanese authorities to respond to the aspirations of the Lebanese people by implementing meaningful economic reforms” and addressing security, humanitarian and COVID-19 challenges.
Lebanon, one of the most indebted nations in the world, defaulted for the first time in March on its sovereign debt. Anti-government protests that erupted in October subsided during a nationwide lockdown since mid-March to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. Those restrictions are starting to ease.
Officials in Miami Beach have closed one of the city’s parks until further notice because people weren’t following rules that require face coverings and social distancing
While the rest of Florida began Phase I of reopening on Monday, the three populous counties in South Florida (Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties) remain on a complete lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last Wednesday, however, Miami Beach and other area cities reopened some parks and marinas for outdoor activity with certain restrictions, including the use of face coverings and social distancing.
Miami Beach officials say the majority of warnings and instances of non-compliance occurred within South Pointe Park over the weekend, according to police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.
Between Friday and Sunday, park rangers issued 7,329 verbal warnings to people who did not properly cover their faces, according to statistics Rodriguez sent via email.
The park rangers issued 478 warnings for failing to follow social distancing guidelines. In addition, 1,335 people were asked to leave parks after closing time.
Last Thursday, the day after the parks reopened, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales tweeted that the first day back in the parks was “very challenging” because many failed to follow rules. He warned then that the city would close the parks again if people didn’t comply with the rules.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is extending an executive order mandating that some nonessential businesses close for another week, until May 15.
Northam announced at a news conference Monday that the state is seeing positive trends in data related to spread and treatment of the coronavirus pandemic, but he said more time is needed before restrictions can be eased.
His executive order, which forces closed some businesses and severely restricts how others operate, was set to expire May 8. His order also bans gatherings of 10 or more in public or private.
The governor, a Democrat, has come under increasing pressure from Republican lawmakers and others to reopen the state as some other Southern states have done.
PRAGUE — The Czech government has decided to lift its ban on international train and bus travel amid easing its restrictive measures imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Trade and Industry Minister Karel Havlicek says trains and busses will be allowed to cross the country’s borders again as of May 11.
The Czechs returning home will have to present a negative test on the coronavirus that is not older than four days, or to be quarantined for two weeks.
Additionally, workers from not European countries will be allowed to entry the Czech Republic to be employed at temporary jobs in the agriculture or health sectors on condition they have a negative test on the virus.
Also, the Czech government will send 500,000 face masks from its reserves as help to Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced the plan.
It’s the second time the Czechs have donated some protective equipment to its EU partners. In March, the Czech Republic transported 10,000 protective suits to Italy and the same amount to another badly hit country, Spain.
SEATTLE — Hundreds of health care workers and dozens of first responders in Washington state have become sick with the coronavirus while on the job, according to workers’ compensation claims.
The new data provides some insight into how the coronavirus has impacted the health care community but underestimates how many doctors and nurses have tested positive.
That number is not known because state and federal health officials have failed to collect the information, and they’ve made no improvements since The Associated Press first reported the problem in April.
“Our data on occupations are not complete, so we do not report the information since it would not be reliable,” said Annie Johnson, a spokesperson for the Washington health department’s Joint Information Center.
Washington is not alone. States that reported coronavirus cases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control only included occupational information for 16% of all reported cases, the agency said in a new report.
Experts say knowing how COVID-19 is impacting front-line workers in the health care system is vital in handling the crisis.
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year because of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Teachers have been required to conduct remote instruction since schools shuttered in mid-March.
New Jersey is among the hardest-hit states in the country with 7,871 COVID-19 fatalities and more than 120,000 positive cases.
New Jersey has some 600 school districts and about 1.4 million students enrolled, according to the state Education Department.
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