The Latest: Las Vegas Mayor says city is withering

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.


— WHO regrets the U.S. decision to halt funding.

—Group of 20 nations agree to suspend debt payments.

—Trudeau says Canada’s lockdown will last ‘many more weeks.’


LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas is withering with tourists staying home and conventions and businesses closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the city’s outspoken mayor .

“This shutdown has become one of total insanity,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the day after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak declared he was nowhere near reopening parts of the state’s idled economy.

“I am asking: Open the city. Open Clark County. Open the state,” said Goodman, reading a statement at the start of weekly online City Council meeting.

“For heaven’s sake,” Goodman said, “being closed is killing us already, and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we have all worked so hard to build. The longer we wait to do this, the more impossible it will become to recover.”

State health officials reported Wednesday that more than 3,200 people have been diagnosed with the virus, and 131 have died.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s parliament has approved legislation that increases punishment for violence, threats or insults against medical staff while they are on duty.

The long-awaited bill was passed as a gesture to medical professionals battling the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure also allows medical personnel to refuse to treat aggressive or disrespectful patients as long as other personnel are available to step in.


BATON ROUGE, La. — Republican state senators blocked an emergency plan to expand early voting and mail-in balloting options for Louisiana’s July presidential primary, raising objections to wider use of vote-by-mail options for people worried about the risk of exposure to the coronavirus in one of the nation’s larger outbreaks.

GOP Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin ran into a wall of opposition from his fellow Republicans — including objections from the state Republican Party — for his proposal. A Senate committee packed with Republicans rejected an emergency certification that Ardoin needed to move ahead with the changes to polling places, early voting timelines and absentee-by-mail voting eligibility.

The vote’s impact on the election is uncertain. Senators suggested Ardoin should make changes and return with a new proposal, but Ardoin warned he wasn’t certain he could negotiate a redesigned plan in time to order the supplies he would need to conduct a safe election, such as additional voting equipment and protective gear for poll workers.


PARIS — For the first time since the virus outbreak began in the country, France reported a decrease in numbers of COVID-19 patients at hospitals.

National health agency chief Jerome Salomon says there were about 500 fewer people infected with the virus at hospitals than the day before.

Numbers of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units dropped for the seventh straight day, he added.

The overall death toll from the disease in France has risen to 17,167, including 10,643 at hospitals and 6,524 in nursing homes.

Salomon urged the French to keep enforcing strict confinement rules with the lockdown of the country extended to May 11. “We must remain vigilant,” he said.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser is extending the District of Columbia’s state of emergency through May 15 as the nation’s capital prepares for an expected surge in COVID-19 coronavirus infections.

Bowser’s executive order also made face coverings or masks mandatory for hotel employees and guests, riders in taxis and ride-share vehicles and employees and customers in food stores. The original state of emergency, declared on March 11, was set to expire on April 25.

As of Wednesday morning, Washington has identified 2,197 cases of virus infection with 72 deaths. DC health officials are predicting a peak surge in infections sometime in late May or June.


LANSING, Mich. — Hundreds of flag-waving, honking protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol to show their displeasure with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak.

As snow fell, others got out of their vehicles and raised signs, one of which read, “Gov. Whitmer We Are Not Prisoners.” Another said, “Michigander Against Gretchens Abuses.”

The protest, called “Operation Gridlock,” was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition.

State police said they would stay on the sideline unless people could get hurt. The protest made big ripples: Traffic was barely moving around 1 p.m. nearby on westbound Interstate 496.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has extended a stay-home order through April 30 and has shut down schools and businesses deemed non-essential.


LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says new procedures will be introduced so “wherever possible” people will have a “chance to say goodbye” to loved ones dying with the coronavirus.

At the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing, Hancock said “wanting to be with someone you love at the end of their life is one of the deepest human instincts.”

He said he wept when he heard 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died from COVID-19 earlier this month without a parent at his bedside.

He said the new procedures will give “people’s closest loved ones the chance to say goodbye” subject to limiting the risk of infection.

No further details were offered.

Following intense criticism of the government over the pandemic in care homes, Hancock also announced measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including increased testing and improved access to protective equipment.


WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken with a senior Chinese diplomat to underscore the Trump administration’s demand that China be transparent and share the full gamut of information about the origins and spread of the new coronavirus.

Amid the administration’s increasingly vocal complaints about Beijing’s response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the city of Wuhan, the State Department said Pompeo spoke Wednesday with Yang Jiechi, a former Chinese foreign minister who now runs the foreign affairs office of China’s Communist Party. The call came a day after President Donald Trump froze U.S. payments to the World Health Organization pending a review into how it handled the outbreak and whether it bowed to Chinese pressure to downplay its severity.

Pompeo “stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks,” the department said in a statement.


LONDON — The British government’s chief medical adviser says the U.K.’s daily coronavirus death toll in hospitals is likely to rise over coming days, but the country is “probably” approaching the peak of the outbreak.

At the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing, professor Chris Whitty said that in the past few weeks, the number of those dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has risen after dipping over the weekend and the subsequent two days. After the four-day Easter weekend, Whitty said there’s likely to be a “catch-up” and “a bounce tomorrow.”

His comments come after the U.K. recorded its fourth straight day of below 800 deaths in hospitals, which has surprised many forecasters who were predicting more than 1,000 daily U.K. deaths by now. The government said earlier another 761 people died in hospitals, taking the total to 12,868 people. That death toll does not include those who passed away in care homes or elsewhere.

Whitty said the U.K. is “probably reaching the peak overall” but that officials are “not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely this is now past the peak.”


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s death toll for the new coronavirus surpassed 1,500 after the country reported 115 additional fatalities in the past 24 hours.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also reported 4,281 new infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 69,392.

The death toll now stands at 1,518.


MADRID — Grappling with how to reshape education disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Spanish authorities announced the school year will end in June as usual and that almost all high school students will get a pass grade.

Spain cancelled classes for 8.2 million schoolchildren last month as the coronavirus outbreak gathered pace. Distance learning tools have been used since then.

Spain has attributed 18,579 deaths to the coronavirus, the world’s third-worst toll after the United States and Italy.


LONDON — A pregnant nurse who tested positive for COVID-19 has died after undergoing an emergency caesarean to save her child.

The Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong died Sunday and “was a fantastic nurse and a great example of what we stand for.’’

An internal staff email sent to her colleagues at Luton and Dunstable Hospital says the decision to perform the caesarean came after her condition deteriorated. Channel 4 News, which first reported the tragedy, said doctors initially thought Agyapong was showing signs of improving, but her symptoms got worse.

The NHS Trust’s chief executive, David Carter, told Channel 4 that the little girl’s survival was a “beacon of light at this very dark time.”


WASHINGTON — U.S. law enforcement officials say more than 130 investigations have been launched around the country into fraud and other crimes linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations says its agents have so far made nine arrests and executed seven search warrants as part of an effort with other law enforcement agencies to crack down on fake virus tests and treatments and personal protective equipment and other attempts to take advantage of the health crisis.

The agency announced the start of “Operation Stolen Promise” in response to what it called a “significant rise in criminal activity.”

HSI said it has seized more than $3 million in illicit proceeds and shut down 11,000 domain names connected to allegedly fraudulent schemes.

Agents expect the amount of fraud will increase as financial relief and federal stimulus money starts to filter through the U.S. economy in the coming weeks.


TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s lockdown will last “many more weeks” and warned Canadians if the economy is reopened too soon all the sacrifices they are making now might be for nothing as the country could see another peak in coronavirus cases.

Trudeau says Canada is still “a number of weeks away” from being able to start to reopen and urged Canadians to be patient.

He says once there is some reopening there is going to be a need for rapid testing on a wide scale and extensive contact tracing for those who test positive. He says once Canada is past the first wave government needs to have the capacity to stamp out any future outbreaks.

His remarks are his strongest yet against loosening economic restrictions too soon.

Canada has more than 27,557 confirmed cases including 954 deaths.


ROME — Italy’s daily increase in COVID-19 cases has continued to slow.

The day-to-day increase of 2,667 confirmed cases that was announced by authorities was the lowest in some five weeks and represented a less than 1.7% increase compared to the total cases of the previous day. The number of intensive care beds occupied by patients with coronavirus infections also kept dropping.

Other encouraging numbers were registered in Lombardy, the northern region which by far has had the heaviest case load. Lombardy saw 827 more cases since a day earlier, but past days had brought day-to-day increases of 1,000 or much more. Italy now has more than 165,000 known cases of COVID-19.


LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says it regrets the U.S. decision to halt funding.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the U.S. has been “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO and we hope it will continue to be so.”

He made the comments after President Donald Trump announced a halt to U.S. funding, temporarily suspending millions of dollars from the U.N health agency’s biggest funder.

Tedros says WHO remained committed to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and it would work with its partners to ensure that any funding shortfall could be met.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich nations and poor, large nations and small,” Tedros said. “This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat, a dangerous enemy. When we’re divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.”

Tedros says WHO’s member countries and independent organizations will assess the U.N. health agency’s performance at a later day. But the focus must remain on ending the outbreak.


DUBAI — The world’s wealthiest countries have agreed to immediately suspend billions of dollars in debt payments for the world’s poorest countries as nations race to spend money on health care and workers impacted by the pandemic.

The Group of 20 nations, which include the U.S., China, India, Germany, France and others, agreed unanimously Wednesday on the suspension of debt payments at a virtual summit of finance ministers that was presided over by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said after the meeting, “All bilateral official creditors will participate in this initiative, which is an important milestone for the G-20.”

The G-20 didn’t say how many countries would be impacted, but French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire says 76 countries were eligible to the moratorium.


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