The Latest: Makers of COVID-19 drug looking at options

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 heads to Phoenix to tour Honeywell plant.

—French President Macron criticized for opening schools next week.

—Britain’s official coronavirus death toll becomes highest in Europe.

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TRENTON, N.J. — The maker of a drug that can speed recovery of COVID-19 patients says it’s working with other companies to enable them to manufacture its remdesivir for other parts of the world.

However, Gilead Sciences didn’t say anything about what price it would set for the injections, in the U.S. or elsewhere.

The California company got U.S. approval on Friday for use of remdesivir on an emergency basis. That came two days after a Gilead study found the medicine shortened recovery time for hospitalized virus patients to an average of 11 days, versus 15 days for those receiving standard supportive care.

Gilead says it’s discussing granting voluntary licenses with multiple pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers to make remdesivir “for Europe, Asia and the developing world through at least 2022.” It envisions a consortium of manufacturers to make enough of the drug for the world.

Gilead has been pressed by patient groups, politicians and others to make remdesivir affordable, given the high prices it charges for its medicines for HIV and hepatitis C.

There is no cure for the virus, which has killed more than 255,000 people worldwide.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is giving Texas hair and nail salons permission to reopen this week. Gyms will be allowed to reopen later this month.

The Republican made the announcement while emphasizing the state’s coronavirus infection rates are declining. Some health officials continue to warn that easing restrictions too quickly will result in new infection hot spots.

Abbott’s push to let barbershops and hair salons open Friday has Texas moving faster than he suggested just a week ago when the governor allowed his stay-at-home order to expire. Restaurants and retailers were allowed to reopen last Friday under limited capacity.

Texas has 33,000 cases and more than 900 deaths linked to the virus. But Abbott continued to stress that the infection rate in Texas is below 5 percent, which is down from more than 7 percent two weeks ago.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania has reported another 554 coronavirus deaths to pass 3,000 total, while Gov. Tom Wolf says he is not committing to a particular schedule to lift stay-at-home pandemic restrictions in the state’s counties or regions.

The large number of new deaths reported by the state Department of Health were spread out over the previous two weeks, the agency said, as it reconciles its figures with deaths being reported by local agencies or hospitals.

Still, it was as stark a figure as the state has reported and comes as Wolf’s administration moves to lighten its restrictions on movement and business activity.

Wolf maintained Tuesday that he would stick to a reopening process that relies on what he sees as indicators tied to safety.

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NEW ORLEANS — The number of Louisiana deaths attributed to the disease caused by the new coronavirus surpassed 2,000 in figures released by the state health department, and the number of confirmed cases neared 30,000.

More than 20,300 of those infected are now presumed recovered, according to the figures. The number of those hospitalized with the disease remained above 1,500, but still well below the peak of more than 2,100 hospitalizations in early April. The number requiring ventilators stood at 194, down from 220 a day earlier.

The number of deaths — 2,042 — was up from 1,991 a day earlier.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri is moving ahead with plans to execute a convicted killer on May 19, unlike other states that have postponed executions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Gov. Mike Parson is not planning to postpone the execution of Walter Barton. Other states have put executions on hold because of the risks of spreading the virus and social distancing restrictions on the size of gatherings.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann says each of the three execution witness rooms will be limited to 10 or fewer people, in accordance with the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine moved executions scheduled for July and August to 2022. The Tennessee Supreme Court delayed an execution scheduled in June until early 2021. Texas delayed five executions.

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BETHEL, Maine — A restaurant owner who recently shared what he said was the Maine governor’s private cellphone number on live national television has flouted her orders again.

Rick Savage allowed dine-in customers in his Sunday River Brewing Co. after he concluded doing so would not imperil his federal beer-making permit. He had previously lost his state licenses on Friday after opening for dine-in customers.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ pandemic-fighting orders allow restaurants to open only for takeout orders until June 1. The governor’s office did not respond Tuesday to request for comment.

Savage complains Mills is not acting fast enough to reopen the economy after ordering restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Savage became a voice of angry business owners last week when he denounced Mills on Fox News Channel and shared the phone number.

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced a limited opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and other areas for day use in a partial easing of restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus.

Officials say day-use will slowly return to other state parks starting next week. The popular Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas and coastal areas will remain closed for now. Brown says Oregonians should recreate responsibly.

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LONDON — A leading epidemiologist whose work heavily influenced Britain’s lockdown measures has resigned from his position as a government adviser after a newspaper revealed he broke social distancing rules.

Professor Neil Ferguson says he “made an error of judgment” and regrets “any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing.”

His statement came after the Telegraph reported he had allowed his married lover to visit him at home during the lockdown.

Ferguson leads a team at Imperial College London who modeled the spread and impact of the coronavirus in data that was instrumental in prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose lockdown measures.

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MEXICO CITY — A survey of private economic analysts by Mexico’s central bank shows they expect the country’s economy to experience a whopping 14.1% contraction in the second quarter, a grimmer outlook than the same poll showed just a month ago. The median projection in the same survey in March had been for a 7.5% contraction in the second quarter.

On average, the 38 analysts surveyed expect a net drop in GDP of 7.27% for the year as a whole, as compared to the 4% drop they expected when asked a month earlier. They predicted that job losses in 2020 would amount to 693,000, and that unemployment would rise to 5.75%. Projections for a recovery in 2021 rose only slightly, from 1.9% to 2.5%.

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has approved plans by Huntington Beach and two smaller cities to reopen beaches that fell under his order shutting down the entire Orange County coast after a heat wave drew large crowds to the shore.

Huntington Beach, the world famous surfing mecca, and the cities of Dana Point and Seal Beach submitted plans consistent with the governor’s orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic and include measures to avoid overcrowding and enable physical distancing, the state Natural Resources Agency said.

The governor announced April 30 he was ordering all Orange County beaches to shut down after spring heat spell prompted thousands of people to head to the coast, primarily at Huntington Beach and adjacent Newport Beach.

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says the White House coronavirus task force could wind down its work by early June.

Pence tells reporters at a White House briefing that the U.S. could be “in a very different place” by late May and early June. Pence says the administration is beginning to eye the Memorial Day to early June window as the appropriate time to have federal agencies manage the pandemic response in a more traditional way.

Pence’s comments came as an Associated Press analysis found infection rates rising even as states start to lift their lockdowns.

The vice president characterized the discussions as preliminary.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, says the federal government will still keep a close eye on the data when the task force disbands.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee officials have reported the first death of a state inmate who tested positive for the coronavirus — a man who was among the nearly 1,300 inmates who tested positive from one prison.

The state Department of Correction says the 67-year-old man was an inmate at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, which is privately run by CoreCivic. The inmate was taken to the hospital April 25, tested positive there and died Monday, the department said.

The department says the exact cause of death is awaiting the medical examiner’s determination. The department and Tennessee-based CoreCivic both declined to release the inmate’s name.

Officials say six Tennessee inmates who tested positive are hospitalized, including one in serious condition. In recent mass testing, the Trousdale facility saw nearly 1,300 inmates and 50 staffers test positive, mostly without symptoms.

After the state saw about half of Trousdale’s inmates test positive, Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s administration last week announced plans to begin testing all inmates and staff across the state prison system.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo says almost everyone in an indoor or outdoor public place in Rhode Island will be required to wear a face mask starting Friday to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Democratic governor says she intends to sign an executive order requiring masks, with exceptions for small children, the developmentally disabled and people with certain medical conditions.

She said she wants people to think of masks like they do a wallet, car keys or phone — “Don’t leave home without it.”

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CASS LAKE, Minn. — The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is asking nonresidents to avoid traveling to or through the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reservation is near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and shares territory with Chippewa National Forest.

Leech Lake Chairman Faron Jackson says the band is “taking every precaution to ensure that the health and well-being of our communities is protected.”

In a statement, the Leech Lake band points out that American Indians have higher incidences of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses that make individuals vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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WASHINGTON — Two U.S. senators are proposing to amend federal legislation to temporarily assume that first responders who contracted the coronavirus within 45 days of their last shift were infected during work and are eligible for death benefits.

The federal Public Safety Officers Benefits Program provides death benefits to the survivors who die in the line of duty or as a result of a work-related incident. The program now requires evidence that shows the death was caused by an infectious disease related to work — a difficult determination with the coronavirus amid a pandemic.

The legislation was proposed by senators Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, and Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Federal death benefits include a one-time payment of $359,316 and/or education assistance of $1,224 a month to survivors.

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LONDON — Britain’s official coronavirus death total has passed Italy’s number to become the highest in Europe.

The U.K. government says 29,427 people with COVID-19 have died in hospitals, nursing homes and other settings, an increase of 693 on the figure announced a day earlier. In Italy, 29,315 people confirmed to have the virus have died.

The toll is the second-highest in the world behind the United States.

Both the British and Italian tallies are probably underestimates because they do not included suspected cases. In the U.K. there have been 32,375 deaths in which COVID-19 was either confirmed or suspected.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says Americans should think of themselves as “warriors” in the fight against the new coronavirus.

Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Phoenix to tour a Honeywell plant that’s making N95 respirator masks.

Trump’s trip is designed to give the appearance of a return to normalcy as states begin to reopen after shutting down in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The president has stayed close to the White House since mid-March, when he declared a national emergency over the outbreak. He traveled to Virginia at the end of March to see a Navy hospital shift off to New York, and he spent this past weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Trump says: “The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open.”

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed plans to gradually reopen schools next week amid concerns from mayors, teachers and parents about the timing.

Macron, wearing a mask, visited a primary school in a suburb west of Paris on Tuesday that has remained open for children of health workers.

More than 300 mayors in the capital region, including Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, urged Macron in an open letter to delay the reopening of primary schools scheduled for next week.

They denounced an “untenable and unrealistic timetable” to meet the sanitary and safety conditions required by the state, including class sizes capped to a maximum of 15. The majority of French children attend public schools.

Many parents say they won’t send their children back to school as France is one of the world’s hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus.

France starts lifting confinement measures on May 11, with businesses to resume activity and parents to return to work.

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

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