The Latest: Hurricane season to be challenging amid pandemic

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.

— Hurricane season will present challenges amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

— Italy’s education minister says students will be back in school in September. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell preaches importance of wearing masks.

— Nurse group says COVID-19 has killed more nurses in Brazil than anywhere else.

— U.N. chief warns of historic levels of famine.

___

WASHINGTON — Emergency management officials briefed President Donald Trump Thursday about the challenges of preparing for what is expected to be an above-average hurricane season amidst a coronavirus pandemic.

During an Oval Office meeting, officials reported that the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 13 to 19 named storms and six to 10 of those storms could develop into hurricanes.

Vice President Mike Pence says that when people are displaced by tropical storms or hurricanes, they are used to congregating at local schools or gyms. He says there will be “different challenges now” and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided recommendations to local and state officials on how to respond to natural disasters during a pandemic.

Recommendations include encouraging evacuees to plan on staying with friends and families rather than end up in shelters.

___

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s mayor has announced plans to reopen the city on June 15 for outdoor dining and indoor shopping, religious services, and sporting events without spectators.

Mayor London Breed says local coronavirus statistics are positive enough to restart the local economy, but she warned that residents must continue wearing masks and shelter in place.

Breed’s guideline allows for barbershops and hair salons to reopen in July, and nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and bars scheduled to reopen in August.

San Francisco is one of six Bay Area counties that coordinated a shutdown in mid-March. All reopening dates are tentative.

___

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday announced plans to allow bars and nightclubs to reopen, overnight summer camps and summer schools to begin and professional and amateur sports to resume operations and practices, all with social distancing and sanitation restrictions in place.

The Republican also extended a public health state of emergency, describing the road ahead as a “slow and careful transition to a new normal.”

The continued easing of restrictions comes as public health experts warn that new daily confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Georgia are ticking upward after weeks of decline.

___

CAIRO — Sudan’s public prosecutor says that another two senior officials of ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir’s regime have contracted the coronavirus in detention.

The attorney general said that former vice president Ali Muhamed Taha and former defense minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein tested positive while imprisoned in the capital of Khartoum.

Both are in their 70s and are the latest of four former party leaders to be infected, raising fears the virus is spreading rapidly through the cells of Kober prison. They were transferred to isolation centers for treatment.

Officials have ramped up testing of other political figures who landed in jail after a sweeping protest movement toppled al-Bashir in April last year.

Sudan has released over 4,000 low-risk prisoners to prevent a major outbreak. But freeing former leaders could prove politically explosive as the country makes a fragile transition to democracy.

___

ROME — Italy’s education minister is promising students they will return to school in September.

Minister Lucia Azzolina told RAI state TV Thursday evening that come September all the nation’s school children “will hear the school bell ring” again. She said students older than six will have to wear protective masks at school and stay a safe distance apart from classmates.

Schools were closed as a safety measure after Italy started seeing hundreds of cases before the entire nation went into lockdown in early March. The COVID-19 outbreak in Europe began in Italy.

While the Italian government eased restrictions this month on many sectors of daily life, including allowing museums and all retail shops to open, restaurants to resume dining-in service and people to frequent parks, school buildings will stay shuttered for the rest of the school year. The only exception is high school students in their final year. They will return to school on June 17 to have individual oral exams needed for graduation.

___

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The U.N. children’s agency is warning that Latin America could see a devastating jump in childhood poverty.

UNICEF and Save the Children warned Thursday that 46% of children in the region could be living in poor households by the end of the year as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic. That would make Latin America the second hardest hit region in the world.

An additional 16 million children are projected to live in poor households this year.

Monica Rubio, UNICEF ’s social policy adviser, says such a rise would “significantly reverse” gains made in reducing childhood poverty in the past two decades.

The United Nations estimates that the region’s economy could contract 5.3% this year, a downturn that would be worse than the Great Depression.

The World Food Program says upward of at least 14 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean could go hungry this year.

___

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Democratic governor says his administration hasn’t received the written safety plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention that his health secretary asked for amid friction with President Donald Trump on the event’s capacity.

Gov. Roy Cooper said during a Thursday afternoon briefing that his administration has yet to see plans for how the RNC envisions safely holding the convention in Charlotte in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump threatened in a tweet Monday to move the convention unless Cooper could guarantee a full-capacity gathering. Trump reiterated the idea by saying he wanted an answer from Cooper within a week, or he’d be forced to consider moving the convention somewhere else.

Cooper said his administration required a similar written plan from NASCAR ahead of its recent race in the Charlotte area that was run without fans. He said he’s in similar discussions with other sports teams, including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

___

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department Department of Education on Thursday approved Saturday classes in case of another surge of coronavirus cases.

The board approved a plan starting in the fall in which Saturday classes will be counted toward minimum attendance requirements. Saturday classes are currently prohibited by state law.

Health officials have warned of a possible second surge of coronavirus cases and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said she wants schools to prepare multiple calendars for the fall in case of another outbreak.

Oklahoma schools canceled in-person classes and moved to distance learning in mid-March as the virus spread in the state.

___

OWENSBORO, Ky. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday preached the importance of wearing masks in public as the nation’s economy reopens from the “cataclysmic” damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

During a tour of hospitals in his home state of Kentucky, the Republican leader stressed wearing masks in public and following social distancing guidelines.

“There should be no stigma attached to wearing a mask,” McConnell said during an appearance Thursday in Owensboro. “And even among age groups that are least likely to either contract this disease or die from it, you could be a carrier. So I think what we all need to do is say, ‘OK, I’m going to take responsibility not only for myself but for others.’”

McConnell, who is in his late 70s and is in the midst of his own re-election campaign, has worn masks at his appearances. On Thursday, he stuffed the face covering into his coat jacket to speak, then donned it again afterward.

President Donald Trump has refused to wear face coverings. Manw coronavirus epidemic, some two weeks ago. The country has been gradually lifting virus restrictions as the number of new cases fell to none or one or two daily.

___

MADRID — Spanish authorities are reporting no setbacks in the gradual easing of restrictions on movement over the past month as some regions prepare to further loosen limits starting Monday.

Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s emergency medical response, said Thursday that the improving quality of data about the spread of the new coronavirus is allowing officials to act quickly to stamp out any resurgence. He said an outbreak this week in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta is “perfectly manageable.”

Authorities in Ceuta say several “fiestas” and lax compliance with social distancing rules at bars and on restaurant terraces compelled officials to order the self-isolation of 271 people over the past week. They had been in contact with nine new cases there.

Different regions of hard-hit Spain are emerging at different speeds from a national lockdown as they meet targets stipulated by health officials.

Authorities on Thursday announced 182 new cases over the previous 24 hours, taking the official total to almost 238,000.

___

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington officials say the state has recovered $300 million paid to criminals who used stolen personal information to file fraudulent unemployment benefit claims amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Thursday that she could not yet reveal the precise amount that was paid out in fraudulent claims, but she said that the initial recovery was a result of the state’s collaboration with federal law enforcement and financial institutions across the country.

LeVine first detailed the scope of the fraud last week, saying that the information of tens of thousands of people in the state was used to fraudulently receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits.

___

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A rural northern county in California is temporarily rescinding an order allowing the reopening of restaurants, shopping and other services after reporting its first cases of the new coronavirus.

Lassen County had been one of only two counties in the state without any reported coronavirus cases and now has at least five.

The county, which has 30,000 people, had reported no cases until last Friday.

Lassen County had started reopening businesses under state rules on May 11.

___

RIO DE JANEIRO — The new coronavirus has killed more nurses in Brazil than in any other country, according to the International Council of Nurses.

The group did not provide exact figures but said it is in the process of updating its data and will be releasing a new statement regarding the global situation early next week, Richard Elliot, the council’s communications director, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Brazil has registered 157 deaths of nurses, nurse technicians and nursing assistants from COVID-19 so far, according to the Brazilian Federal Council of Nursing. The council said the trend is for the death toll among the workers to continue growing and warned its scale depends on several factors, including supply of personal protective equipment and the virus’ spread in the general population.

Brazil has reported about 411,000 infections and 25,000 deaths from the pandemic thus far, by far the hardest hit country in Latin America.

___

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is relaxing several restrictions that were put into place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that a ban on travel between cities most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will be lifted, while restaurants, cafe, museums, sports centers parks and beaches will re-open on Monday. Public service workers, except those with chronic illnesses, will also return to work and child care facilities will be allowed to reopen.

However, in a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said that a stay-at-home order for people aged 65 and over, and for minors, will remain for a while longer, while those aged 19 and 20 are now allowed outdoors.

The country resumed limited intercity train services Thursday and mosques are scheduled to partially reopen Friday.

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed infections in the country surpassed 160,000, with the Health Ministry announcing 1,182 new cases in the past 24 hours. The ministry also reported 30 new deaths, raising the total COVID-19 fatalities to 4,461.

___

LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s record jobless figures continues to climb, with more than 18,000 people filing first-time benefits claims last week, adding to the all-time-high 28.2% statewide unemployment figure in April.

Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department comes after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced earlier in the week that casinos can reopen June 4.

Nevada, which relies heavily on tourism and entertainment, saw unemployment soar to the highest rate since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

The governor closed casinos and businesses in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after about 75 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and one died. On Thursday, state health officials reported more than 8,100 positive tests and at least 402 deaths, mostly in the Las Vegas area.

___

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is warning world leaders that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause “unimaginable devastation and suffering around the world,” with historic levels of hunger and famine and up to 1.6 billion people unable to earn a living unless action is taken now.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a high-level meeting Thursday that COVID-19 could also lead to “a loss of $8.5 trillion in global output, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Guterres called for Immediate and collective action in several critical areas: enhancing global financial liquidity; providing debt relief; engaging private creditors; promoting external finance; plugging leaks in tax evasion; money-laundering; and corruption. He also wants to make sure the recovery tackles the climate crisis.

___

Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Categories: National & International News