The Latest: North Carolina residents demand end to lockdown
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:
— Countries and U.S. states are moving to reopen gradually amid warnings that acting too quickly could enable the virus to come back with a vengeance.
— Serbia lets elderly outside for the first time in more than a month.
— South Africa to spend big to fight the socioeconomic effects of the new coronavirus.
— Netherlands to allow elementary school children to return to classrooms.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Hundreds of people frustrated with Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order designed to blunt COVID-19 marched on Tuesday around his home, demanding that he cancel it now to unleash the state’s economy.
Carrying placards and banners and chanting, the protesters gathered in a parking lot before being escorted by Raleigh police motorcycles to walk through streets downtown, including those surrounding the Executive Mansion. The final participants in the ReopenNC crowd, while raucous at times, ultimately dispersed peaceably about three hours later.
Cooper’s current order expires April 29, but the governor has said expanded widespread testing and supplies, extensive contact tracing and slowed case and hospital rates are needed before movement and commerce restrictions can ease. Cooper told reporters later Tuesday that the state hasn’t done that yet. He said that he would release more specifics this week about the goals that must be met to loosen the controls.
“I know that many people are frustrated, anxious and eager to get back to work and school. I also know that many people want to make sure that their families are as safe as possible from this virus,” Cooper said.
MADISON, Wis. — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to block an order from the Democratic governor’s administration extending a stay-at-home order from Friday until May 26.
Republicans argued in the lawsuit that the state health secretary, acting under the direction of Gov. Tony Evers, does not have the legal authority to issue the order that closes most nonessential businesses.
The lawsuit was filed as Vice President Mike Pence was touring a GE Healthcare manufacturing facility in Madison that is producing ventilators.
Pence thanked workers and their union during the tour, saying social distancing and other mitigation efforts were working to ensure the nation’s health care system doesn’t become overwhelmed, resulting in more demand for ventilators than there is capacity to provide.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some South Carolina beaches reopened Tuesday and dozens of sunbathers quickly flocked to the sand.
Gov. Henry McMaster lifted his order from earlier in the coronavirus pandemic closing all public access to beaches at noon Tuesday, but left the decision whether to reopen to local coastal governments.
Many of them decided to wait, including the city of Myrtle Beach, which has one of the state’s most popular beaches.
But areas near Myrtle Beach decided to open with the only new rules being a statewide emergency order prohibiting gatherings of three or more people who are not related.
A South Carolina Education Television camera filmed dozens of people sunbathing or walking on the edge of the surf at Surfside Beach.
North Myrtle Beach also opened, but beachfront cameras showed fewer people.
Mayor Marilyn Hatley said she felt that reopening the beaches was needed for mental health so people could “enjoy some much-needed sun and recreation.”
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president has announced an “extraordinary budget” of $500 billion rand ($26 billion) to address the huge socioeconomic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa in a national address says the amount is roughly 10% of the country’s GDP. He says the budget will be described more fully in the coming days but that the top priorities are combating the virus and relieving “hunger and social distress” as millions of South Africans struggle to survive.
One-tenth of the new special budget will go toward the country’s most vulnerable people over the next six months. Other priorities include the protection of companies and workers in a country where the economy had been struggling even before the pandemic.
Ramaphosa says the virus and measures to contain it will continue to take a severe toll “in the weeks and months to come,” with many people losing their jobs.
Unemployment already had been 29% in one of the world’s most unequal nations.
“Our country and the world we live in will never be the same again,” Ramaphosa says.
WASHINGTON — Nine sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier have now been hospitalized and are being treated for the coronavirus as the ship continues to battle a growing outbreak.
According to the Navy, just 42 sailors have recovered from the virus since the ship docked in Guam about three and a half weeks ago. More than 4,100 of the ship’s 4,800 crew members have been moved ashore for quarantine, and 710 have tested positive.
The number of those sent to the hospital has increased very slowly, but steadily, over the past week.
None of the sailors is in the intensive care unit. One sailor has died as a result of the virus, which has taken the carrier out of service in the Pacific.
MADRID — Spain’s government is stipulating maximum prices for sale to the public of protective health equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said Tuesday a face mask, for example, cannot be sold for more than 0.96 euros ($1).
The measure was recommended by a government agency which monitors drug prices. Illa said it was designed to avoid “exploitative” pricing.
Spain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 21,200, behind only the United States and Italy.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s elderly ventured outside on Tuesday for the first time in more than a month as authorities eased some of the strict measures that have been in place against the new coronavirus.
The government now allows people over 65 years old to go out for a walk three times a week during a daily curfew when the rest of the population must stay indoors. Authorities say they want to keep the vulnerable elderly residents safe.
Serbia has introduced some of the toughest rules in Europe as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus. People over 65 were only allowed to go shopping for groceries once a week and very early in the morning.
Most people who ventured out Tuesday evening were wearing face masks and some couples were holding hands. One man said he was out for the first time in 35 days.
Serbia has reported 6,890 cases of infection with the new coronavirus, while 130 people have died.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has taken the first tentative steps in relaxing its coronavirus containment measures, allowing elementary school children to return to their classrooms part-time beginning May 11 and allowing children to take part in sport training starting April 29.
High schools have been told to prepare for students to return to class on June 2.
At the same time, Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended a ban on all large-scale events, such as music festivals and professional soccer, until Sept. 1, while bars and restaurants will remain shut until at least May 20.
Rutte told the nation: “Caution now is better than regret later.”
The Netherlands has been in what Rutte calls an “intelligent lockdown” since mid-March that closed down schools, restaurants, bars and museums but stopped short of ordering people in the nation of 17 million to stay home.
Instead, they were urged to act responsibly to slow the spread of the virus — to work from home, stay home as much as possible and engage in social distancing if they venture outdoors.
The measures appear to be having an effect. Health officials said the number of coronavirus patients being treated in intensive care units across the country had dropped by 71 from a day earlier, the biggest single-day decline since the outbreak began.
The official Dutch death toll stands at 3,916, but that only includes people who tested positive. Authorities say the true toll is higher.
PARIS — France has registered at least 20,796 deaths from the new coronavirus as the number of hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19 continued to slowly decrease for the sixth straight day.
National health agency chief Jerome Salomon reported on Tuesday 12,900 deaths at hospitals and 7,896 in nursing homes since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.
Overall death rates nationwide were 61% higher than usual from March 30 to April 5 and 47% higher than usual from April 6 to April 12, Salomon said.
As the country is planning to lift confinement measures starting from May 11, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer provided some details about the government’s plans for schools. He said that children will progressively return to school over a three-week period depending on their age. Classes will be split in small groups of no more than 15 students and some children will practice sports and open-air activities, while others will be in classrooms.
ROME — Italy’s number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including those in intensive care, has continued to decrease.
There was a day-to-day-increase of 2,729 confirmed cases, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Health Ministry, but the majority of Italy’s known coronavirus infections are isolated at home.
In all, Italy has nearly 184,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak began. There were 534 deaths from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, according to the latest figures, raising to 24,648 the number of people with COVID-19 infections who have died. Italy has the highest number of deaths in Europe during the pandemic.
UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. food agency is warning that as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken.
World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that even before COVID-19 became an issue he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” That’s because of wars, locust swarms in Africa, natural disasters and economic crises.
Beasley said 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, 135 million more people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse” and a new World Food Program analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19 an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”
He said WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.”
Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19, said if those people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period,” and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus.
He warned that in a worst-case scenario “we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries.”
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