The Latest: Disney theme park resorts closed indefinitely

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.


— Disney theme parks in Florida, California closed indefinitely.

— Italy’s president seeks to shore up morale.

— US regulators say hospitals can repurpose equipment to serve as ventilators.

— WHO’s emergencies chief says pandemic has no clear end date.


ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Co. is indefinitely extending closures at its theme park resorts in Florida and California because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company had closed Disneyland in Southern California and Disney World outside Orlando in mid-March with plans to reopen at the start of April, but Disney said Friday the resorts would remain closed until further notice. It cited directions given by health and government officials.

The company has been paying its employees during the closure, and Disney said it would continue to pay its tens of thousands of hourly workers through April 18.


UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is not only fighting the “common enemy” of the coronavirus “but our enemy is also the growing surge of misinformation” about COVID-19.

To overcome the virus, he said “we need to urgently promote facts and science” and “promote hope and solidarity over despair and division.”

He said the U.N. is launching a COVID-19 Communications for Solidarity Initiative to rapidly inform the global public about the facts and science, “and promote and inspire acts of humanity around the world.”

Guterres spoke Friday at the first joint video briefing for the 193 U.N. member nations that also included the presidents of the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council as well as a question-and-answer session. The video failed for about 10 minutes while the secretary-general was speaking, but then resumed.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president announced a set of additional measures aiming to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus, including halting all international flights and limiting travel between cities.

The measures announced Friday came hours after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey surpassed the 5,000 mark, while the death toll hit 92.

In a late-night address to the nation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said intercity travel would be subjected to approval from the local governor. Private businesses would emulate the public sector by working with the minimum amount of staff and adopt flexible working hours, Erdogan said, while passengers traveling on public transport would be seated separately.

Erdogan said a “pandemic board” would be formed in all provinces to monitor the measures and take additional precautions if necessary.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Friday that anyone arriving in the state from Louisiana must self-quarantine like those arriving from New York already must because of the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis said he is expanding his quarantine order to include Louisiana after officials in the lightly hit Panhandle worried that people will flee New Orleans as the number of positive tests there climb. DeSantis said the Florida Highway Patrol and sheriff’s offices will set up checkpoints to screen cars arriving from Louisiana.

The order will require anyone who arrives from Louisiana to isolate themselves for two weeks under the threat of a misdemeanor conviction and a 60-day jail sentence. He already issued this week identical restrictions on travelers arriving from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s lawmakers were debating and voting remotely Friday on a government rescue package for the economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The first-time-ever remote attendance is designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect the health of the 460 lawmakers who do not have to all gather in parliament.

Later Friday the legislators were to vote on the “anti-crisis shield” worth at least 212 billion zlotys ($51 billion; 46 billion euros) of financial and administrative assistance to large and small businesses, to the chronically strapped health care system and to the employees.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stressed that the rescue package was balanced between the need to prevent bankruptcies and the need to keep the world’s trust in Poland’s financial decisions. Poland, a country of 38 million, has confirmed 1,340 cases of coronavirus infections. Sixteen people have died.


PARIS — “Merci.”

The French word for “thank you” was emblazoned in lights on the Eiffel Tower on Friday in recognition of health workers fighting to save lives, as France’s coronavirus death toll continued to climb.

The tower also switched on its sparkling lights. The show of solidarity from 8 p.m. on Friday coincided with the moment when citizens in lockdown have been cheering and applauding from their windows and balconies in support of doctors and nurses.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the light show will take place every evening on the 324-meter-tall (1,063-foot-tall) tower.

French hospitals have recorded nearly 2,000 deaths, a figure that doesn’t include COVID-19 cases elsewhere. Health workers are straining to keep pace with the ever-increasing number of infections, with nearly 3,800 people in intensive care, in serious condition.


ROME — Italy’s president says the country is living through “a sad page in our history,” with its oldest generation paying a very high price in loss of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With coffins piling up in the country with the highest number of deaths in the world of persons infected with the coronavirus, President Sergio Mattarella sought to shore up morale Friday night.

He hailed the thousands of doctors who have volunteered to work in the most hardest-hit areas of the outbreak in Italy’s north. He encouraged Italians to keep obeying a national decree that has kept them at home for 2 1/2 weeks so far, save to go essential jobs or do other vital tasks like shop for food.

He praised the tireless giving of self by medical staff, those assuring the nation’s food supply, factories which have converted production lines to producing masks in dire need by doctors and nurses, and others doing their part.

But Mattarella took to task leaders of some European Union countries who have balked at giving countries like Italy and Spain, reeling under the economic impact of the outbreak, the concrete solidarity promptly required.


WASHINGTON — The State Department says it has coordinated the return of more than 15,000 Americans stranded overseas in more than 40 countries since January because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The department said that as of midday Friday, it had arranged the repatriation of 15,441 U.S. citizens through various means, including military, commercial and civilian chartered aircraft. The countries with largest number of evacuees so far are Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and Morocco.

The department also said in a statement on Friday that 93 of its employees had tested positive for the virus, including 68 overseas and 25 in the U.S. Another 110 employees are awaiting the results of tests and 1,760 are self-isolating for precautionary reasons.

The department employs more than 75,000 people in the United States and 220 diplomatic missions abroad.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says hospitals can repurpose medical equipment, including devices used to treat sleep apnea, to serve as ventilators amid concerns about the national supply of the life-sustaining breathing machines.

Under the emergency step, hospitals can use anesthesia machines, CPAP devices and their components in the place of ventilators to treat patients fighting COVID-19. The agency made the regulatory changes in a series of steps this week but FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced them Friday “to ease burdens on the health care system during this pandemic.”

U.S. regulators have waived dozens of regulations in recent weeks to try and boost levels of critical medical supplies needed to address the coronavirus pandemic, including tests, masks, gloves and hand sanitizers.


GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says widespread testing for coronavirus is crucial and countries should not be faulted for turning up higher numbers.

Dr. Michael Ryan appealed for a shift toward measures that allow us “to live with this virus” until a vaccine emerges.

Ryan’s comments Friday suggested a change in mindset and increased resignation at the U.N. health agency that the new coronavirus outbreak that first emerged in China late last year and now has infected over a half-million is here to stay for a while.

“At this point, no one can predict how long this epidemic is going to last,” he said at a regular WHO news conference. “We are entering and moving to an uncertain future … many countries around the world are just beginning the cycle of this epidemic.”

Ryan said the world needs to move from measures aimed to “take the heat” out of the pandemic, in favor of “much more precise targets — directed targets — that will allow us, at the very least, to live with this virus until we can develop a vaccine to get rid of it.”


GENEVA — With many countries initiating lockdowns, school and business closures, and other drastic measures to cut down on the spread of the new coronavirus, World Health Organization officials suggested Friday that individual liberties should be sacrificed for the greater good.

Speaking at a Geneva news conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that measures like limits on travel or leaving the house influence “individual human rights.”

“But this is a choice that we should make: Meaning, in order to have collective security, to be better society and to fight the virus, we give our freedom, you know, for a while.”

WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, added that “individuals are prepared to offer a little piece of individual sovereignty in order to support the community itself.

“This sense of the one to help the many. But that must be a temporary gift,” Ryan said. “That is a gift of the individual to society, not a demand upon the individual.”


BRUSSELS — Belgium’s government has extended lockdown measures for two weeks, up to April 19, as it tries to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country.

The measures, which were initially set to last until April 5, include the obligation for Belgian residents to stay at home, except to go to work when working from home is not possible, and to avoid contact outside of their family as much as possible.

Nonessential shops will remain closed, with access to supermarkets limited to one person per 10 square meters for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Speaking Friday after a meeting of the national security council, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said the lockdown could be extended for a further two weeks if necessary.

According to the latest figures released Friday, 7,284 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Belgium, including 289 people who died.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Holland America cruise line says four elderly passengers have died aboard one of its ships after Chile refused it permission to dock as dozens of passengers are showing symptoms of possibly being infected with the new coronavirus.

Holland America confirmed Friday in a Facebook post that the four died aboard the Zaandam as it awaits permission to pass through the Panama Canal. It did not specify that the four died of coronavirus, but says more than 130 passengers and crew have exhibited possible symptoms. Passengers are being tested and at least two cases have been confirmed. The ship has four doctors and four nurses to treat 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members.

The ship is trying to get to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after being denied permission to dock at its original destination of Chile a week ago. The ship originally left Argentina on March 7. Broward County is debating whether to let the ship dock at its Port Everglades when it is scheduled to arrive early next week.

The Seattle-based cruise line is transferring some passengers to its sister ship, the Rotterdam, which brought the Zaandam supplies. The cruise line is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.


WASHINGTON — Lawyers for young immigrants say the Supreme Court should not end a program that shields their clients from deportation and allows them to work in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a court filing Friday, the lawyers told the justices that 27,000 people protected by the DACA program work in health care.

“Termination of DACA during this national emergency would be catastrophic,” the lawyers wrote.

The justices have been weighing President Donald Trump’s effort to end the program since arguments in mid-November. Roughly 660,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States as children are protected by the program that began during the Obama administration.


HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe has announced a three-week “total lockdown” to start Monday as the economically shattered country tries to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

All citizens must stay at home except for those seeking food or essential services.

The southern African nation’s vast number of street vendors are barred from going out. Neighboring South Africa started a similar lockdown Friday.

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