The Latest: Pentagon orders 8,000 additional ventilators
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:
—Navy hospital ship arrives in New York City.
—Japan urges head of WHO to help speed vaccines.
—Italy sees slowdown in rate of new cases.
— Tokyo Olympics rescheduled to start July 23, 2021.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has ordered an additional 8,000 ventilators, with delivery of the first 1,400 by early May. The $84.4 million order was placed with several suppliers under existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts.
A Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, identified the four suppliers as Zoll, Combat Medical, Hamilton Medical, and VyAire. Andrews said delivery locations will be prioritized by FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. These are in addition to the 2,000 ventilators that the Pentagon previously said it would make available to FEMA from Defense Department stockpiles.
SAN FRANCISCO — The leaders of six San Francisco Bay Area counties are extending their shelter at home orders until May 1.
The region of seven million people was the first in the United States to issue such an order, and it has been credited for helping address the influx of coronavirus patients at local hospitals.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed thanked residents for following the order during the weekend, saying compliance was much better than the previous weekend when some people flocked to parks and beaches.
At least 130 people have died in California from COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a Democrat who attended Friday’s House session to pass a $2 trillion rescue package, says Monday in a statement that she has a presumed coronavirus infection.
Velázquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, stood within feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic and Republican leaders at a signing ceremony after the bill was passed.
Velázquez, 67, says in the statement that she began to feel ill Sunday morning and spoke to the Capitol’s attending physician by phone. She says she was diagnosed with a presumed infection but has mild symptoms and is isolating at home, as the doctor recommended.
MOSCOW — The mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, has ordered a wide-ranging lockdown.
The measure sets the same conditions as in Moscow. Residents are ordered to stay at home except for medical emergencies, buying food and medication, disposing of garbage and walking pets within 100 meters (320 feet) of home. It also allows people to go to their workplaces if required.
St. Petersburg, with a population of about 5.5 million, has reported 50 cases of the coronavirus and one death.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks — apparently not in person, however — over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.
De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened, and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray.
The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome’s Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment.
The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers.
ROME — Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza says Italy will follow the recommendation of scientists and extend a nationwide lockdown at least until April 12.
The lockdown decree currently runs until April 3, and doctors and other health experts have been cautioning that Italy’s cases of COVID-19 haven’t reached their peak yet, despite some encouraging numbers.
Speranza says the national scientific technical committee recommended “extending the containment measures at least until Easter,” April 12. He added: “The government will move in this direction.”
Italy has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and nearly 11,600 deaths of infected persons.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization is citing “some evidence” that wearing face masks — if used improperly — could actually do more harm than good in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said he was unaware of a move by officials in Austria to require people to wear face masks when they go to supermarkets.
With some countries facing shortages of masks, Ryan reiterated that WHO believes generally they should be worn by people who are ill, to prevent them from spreading the virus, and by health care workers who really need them.
“But there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit — in fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite,” he said.
Ryan didn’t elaborate beyond citing “risks” linked to fitting masks improperly, though he appeared to be alluding to how hands can carry virus up to or near the face as the masks are put on.
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida sheriff sought an arrest warrant for the pastor of a megachurch after officials said he held a service with hundreds of people and violated a safer-at-home order put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news conference that he’s negotiating with the attorney of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne to turn himself in to authorities in Hernando County, where he lives. Chronister added that the pastor has “an arsenal of weaponry” and “a vast security force.”
“We’re allowing him to turn himself in. If he doesn’t then we’re going to be forced to be police officers and go get him and law enforcement is highly trained to handle it appropriately,” the sheriff said.
Chronister said his command staff met with church leaders about the danger they are putting themselves — and their congregation — in by not maintaining appropriate social distancing, and Howard-Browne went ahead and held the service. The Sheriff’s Office also placed a digital sign on the road near the church driveway that said, “practice social distancing.”
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president announced the launch of an aid campaign to support low-income families who are being hit by the virus outbreak.
In an address to the nation following a Cabinet meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was donating seven months of his salary to the campaign.
Erdogan also said Turkey planned to send a cargo plane load of medical supplies to Spain to help the country combat the virus.
A ship carrying medical aid has also been dispatched to Italy, Erdogan said.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico has closed a fire station in the U.S. territory’s capital after officials say the wife of a fireman tested positive for COVID-19.
Monday’s announcement comes just days after authorities closed two police stations for similar reasons. Officials said 40 firemen at the Puerta de Tierra station in San Juan were sent home under a two-week quarantine and will be tested.
WASHINGTON — The State Department says it has successfully arranged the repatriation of some 25,000 American citizens stranded abroad in more than 50 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Department officials say they are continuing to ramp up evacuation efforts and that more than 100 flights for U.S. citizens have been scheduled for the coming weeks. About 9,000 Americans have registered for those upcoming flights and there is still space available on many.
Many of those stranded are in Latin American countries, notably Peru, where some Americans have been quarantined by authorities.
Meanwhile, department health officials said there are 75 confirmed coronavirus cases among employees at the 220 U.S. embassies. Inside the United States, the officials said there are 30 confirmed cases of the virus at State Department offices in nine cities.
PRAGUE — The Czech government has extended its sweeping restrictions that are meant to help curb the outbreak of the coronavirus.
A traveling ban that allows people just to go to work and do essential shopping will be in place until at least April 11. Retail businesses, except food stores and pharmacies, also will remain closed until the same date.
The state of emergency that gives the government some extraordinary powers to deal with the pandemic also is set to expire on April 11, and parliamentary approval will be needed for any further extension.
In a new measure, all Czechs returning home from abroad, not just those arriving from the 19 worst hit countries by the crisis, will have to be quarantined for two weeks.
MADRID — A Spanish Air Force A400M cargo plane has arrived with 1 million quick tests for the new coronavirus.
The flight from Shanghai also brought masks and personal protection equipment for health workers in Spain, which has the third-highest number of reported infections in the world, after the United States and Italy.
Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the plane landed Monday at the Torrejón de Ardoz base, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Madrid, with almost 14 metric tons of cargo.
In neighboring Portugal, a shipment of 1 million masks and 200,000 tests also arrived from China.
LONDON — The British government’s chief scientific adviser says there is evidence nationwide lockdown measures are working to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Patrick Vallance says the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 is rising steadily, “suggesting we’re not on a fast acceleration at the moment.”
There are currently 9,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals in England, a number increasing by about 1,000 a day.
Vallance says the number of deaths among people with the virus is tracking the rise seen in France but is below the trajectories of Spain and Italy, the hardest-hit European countries.
The U.K. has confirmed 22,141 cases of COVID-19, and 1,408 people with the virus have died. That is an increase of 180 on the previous 24 hours, a smaller rise than in the two previous days.
ROME — Italy is seeing a continued slowdown in the rate of its new confirmed coronavirus cases while registering a record number of people cured as it enters its third week into a nationwide lockdown.
Another 812 people died in the last day, bringing Italy’s toll to 11,591 and maintaining its position as the country with the most dead.
Overall, Italy added 4,050 new infections Monday, bringing its official total to 101,739 and keeping its place as the European epicenter of the pandemic and second only to the U.S. Epidemiologists say the real number of Italy’s caseload, however, is as much as five to 10 times more than the official number, but that those cases aren’t being counted because Italy is only testing people with severe symptoms. Of those infected, 14,620 have been declared cured, including a record 1,590 in the past day.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says coronavirus case counts in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain are “potentially stabilizing,” but it’s no time to let up on tough measures to limit and track the spread of the virus.
“It is our fervent hope that that is the case,” Dr. Michael Ryan told reporters. “But we have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself.”
Ryan, speaking at a regular WHO news conference, said “we should start to see stabilization” in the wake of lockdowns and “stringent measures” in Italy, Spain and elsewhere over the last two weeks.
He said case-counting in an epidemic reflects the reality of transmission for at least the previous two weeks.
“The cases you see today are almost like a historical, in the same way when we’re told that we’re looking at galaxies through a telescope, that we’re seeing light from a billion years ago,” he said. “We’re seeing a reality that existed before.”
NEW YORK — A Navy hospital ship has arrived in New York City to help relieve the coronavirus crisis gripping New York City’s hospitals.
The USNS Comfort has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours. It’s expected to bolster a besieged health care system by treating non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19.
New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported Sunday that its toll had risen to 776.
TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the head of the World Health Organization to help accelerate development of medicine and vaccines for the coronavirus by promoting information sharing and cooperation among countries.
Abe told Director-General Tedros Adhanom in a phone call that Japan is pursuing clinical research on flu drug Favipiravir with several other countries.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says Tedros pledged WHO’s leadership in the development of medicine, vaccines and diagnostics.
Abe asked Tedros to make use of Japan’s $46 million contribution to the WHO to effectively provide technical assistance for health workers in developing countries where COVID-19 cases are sharply on the rise.
TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in July, the same slot scheduled for this year’s games.
Tokyo organizers say the opening ceremony will take place July 23, 2021. That is almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. The IOC and Japanese organizers last week postponed the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The rescheduled Olympics will start July 23, with the closing ceremony on Aug. 8. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
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