The Latest: U.S., Canada, Mexico extend border restrictions
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:
—WHO members OK evaluation of virus response.
—Russian prime minister returns to work after bout with coronavirus.
— As United States, Europe reopen more, big nations see rising virus toll.
TORONTO — The U.S., Canada and Mexico have extended their agreements to keep their shared borders closed to non-essential travel to June 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the border is a source of vulnerability, so the agreement will be extended by another 30 days. The Canada restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April.
Trudeau said Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures.
“This will keep people in both of our countries safe.” Trudeau said.
U.S. President Donald Trump also confirmed the extension, but looked forward to its eventual end, saying, “everything we want to get back to normal.”
Mexico’s Foreign Affairs ministry said via Twitter that after reviewing the spread of COVID-19 in Mexico and the United States the governments had decided to leave the restrictions implemented March 21 unchanged.
DENVER — A man is accused of shooting and wounding a Waffle House employee in suburban Denver the night after being asked to wear a face covering inside the restaurant, authorities said.
Police in Aurora arrested Kelvin Watson, 27, on Monday on a charge of attempted first-degree murder, KDVR reported. Court records show Watson is represented by the Arapahoe County public defender’s office, which did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday.
According to an arrest affidavit, employees told investigators Watson came to the restaurant shortly after midnight Thursday, and a waitress told him he needed to wear a mask to be served. The restaurant was only offering carry-out service.
Watson allegedly returned with a mask that he was not wearing and was again told he could not be served. Witnesses said he put a small gun on the counter before telling the cook he could “blow your brains out,” according to the affidavit.
The following night, just after midnight Friday, police said Watson returned and slapped the cook across the face when he was told again he was not going to be served. Watson is accused of shooting the cook in the chest or abdomen outside of the restaurant as the cook ran to get away. The cook was released from a hospital Friday afternoon.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The chief architect of Florida’s coronavirus website was fired after an apparent disagreement over what information should be made public, raising questions about the integrity of Florida’s public health data.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said his decision to begin reopening his state has been driven by science, and federal epidemiologists have praised his administration’s daily release of COVID-19 related data.
But Rebekah Jones, an information systems manager with the Florida Department of Health, announced in an email to researchers Friday that she was no longer in charge of the dashboard that provides daily snapshots of Florida’s COVID-19 infections, testing and deaths. She said she would not expect “the same level of accessibility and transparency” in the data presented there, adding that her “commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”
Jones was more pointed in an email to an Orlando television station, CBS12 News, when she said she was removed from her role because she would not “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” It was unclear what data she was asked to change.
Jones could not be reached for comment.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says a public health order that imposes strict regulation of the country’s borders has been extended.
The new order announced Tuesday by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf does not put a 30-day limit on the restrictions as before. It says instead that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will review the latest health data every 30 days to ensure the restrictions are still needed.
Homeland Security officials had signaled in recent days that the order should be extended but that the decision would be up to health authorities. It had been scheduled to expire May 20.
The order enables U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to immediately expel anyone stopped trying to enter the country without authorization, including people seeking asylum. DHS officials say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it too dangerous to hold people in their detention facilities.
Immigrant advocates say it deprives people of the legal right to seek asylum under international law.
NEW ORLEANS — Coronavirus fears closed a Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles location near New Orleans the same morning that it reopened after a two-month pandemic closure.
The office in Harvey was notified that someone in the building might have been in contact with somebody who had COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Deputy Commissioner Keith Neal said Tuesday.
Neal said he did not know whether the notification was from a state Department of Health contact tracer. The health department reported Tuesday that more than 35,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease, 1,004 of them are hospitalized and 2,458 have died. About 26,200 are presumed recovered.
He said the office — one of 11 that reopened statewide Monday after being closed since March 20 — will be sanitized before reopening.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s unemployment rate soared to 14.2% in April, marking the deepest recession the state has experienced since it began keeping records in 1939.
State officials say the numbers released Tuesday don’t reflect the full effect of the economic downturn brought on by a statewide stay-at-home order and the closure of schools and most businesses.
The state lost 266,600 jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, going from a near-record-low unemployment rate of 3.5% in March to the current 14.2%. More than half of all jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry have dried up.
MIAMI — A children’s hospital in Miami has reported what could be the first cases in Florida of a rare inflammatory syndrome affecting some children with the coronavirus.
Both patients are in the pediatric ICU but showing signs of improvement, Jackson Health System said in an email statement.
COVID-19 is far less common in children than adults, and doctors say most infected children develop only mild symptoms. But New York State has been seeing more cases of this mysterious syndrome, which affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.
CAIRO — Egypt has announced further anti-virus measures to follow Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly says that starting May 30, the government will require people to wear face masks in public places, with violators fined 4,000 pounds (around $250) by police.
As Egypt’s curve accelerates, calls for tighter movement restrictions in the Arab world’s most populous country are growing. The number of detected cases in the state jumped by 720 on Tuesday to 13,484 infections and 659 deaths, the highest single-day increase.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch prime minister says the country’s bars and restaurants can reopen on June 1, with limited numbers of guests and social distancing.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the country can begin the next phase of emerging from what he has called an intelligent lockdown, while stressing people should continue practicing social distancing and work from home whenever possible.
The number of new deaths and coronavirus infections has been falling for weeks in the Netherlands, where the official death toll stands at 5,715, although it is thought to be much higher since it only includes people who have tested positive.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed a maximum of 30 clients inside, and people on terraces outside will have to sit at tables.
Cinemas, theaters and concert halls also will be allowed to reopen with a maximum of 30 visitors and social distancing. Museums also can reopen with the number of visitors based on the size of the buildings.
FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. — Six drugmakers that manufacture generic hydroxychloroquine report the drug is in short supply, while three others reported in the last week that their product is available, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortages website.
The companies cite increased demand as the cause, with some stating they expect to next ship the drug at the end of May.
President Donald Trump said Monday he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now,” after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump has spent months pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or preventive drug for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals.
One of the companies, Concordia Pharmaceuticals, also makes the brand-name version, called Paquenil. It says that drug is completely unavailable but is expected to be available again at the end of this month.
ROME — Pressure on Italy’s hospitals has continued to decline, an essential condition for the country to safely continue to eliminate or ease lockdown measures for the coronavirus.
For the first time since mid-March, the number of persons hospitalized in non-intensive care beds has dipped under 10,000. The number of COVID-19 patients occupying intensive care beds also has decreased in recent weeks, down to 716 on Tuesday, according to Health Ministry figures.
Throughout the outbreak, most coronavirus patients in Italy haven’t needed hospitalization but instead stayed isolated at home. There were 813 new cases of infection nationwide in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday evening, raising to 226,699 Italy’s overall known case tally. The daily increase in deaths was registered at 162, increasing the country’s total number of persons who died with confirmed COVID-19 infections to 32,169.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland is reporting its first pediatric death from the coronavirus.
Baltimore County officials say a 15-year-old resident died after being infected by COVID-19. Officials say the individual had symptoms of an inflammatory syndrome associated with the COVID-19 infection that has been documented in children in New York and other locations.
HOUSTON — A catholic church in Houston has closed its doors after five of its leaders tested positive for COVID-19, including two priests who helped celebrate public masses after they resumed earlier this month.
The closure and positive tests come after a priest from Holy Ghost parish, 79-year-old Donnell Kirchner, died last week. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but officials are determining whether he might have contracted the virus before he died May 13.
Kirchner went to an urgent care clinic and later to a hospital emergency room. But after being released, he went back to the home he shared with members of his religious order, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said.
The members of Kirchner’s religious order are asymptomatic but are being quarantined.
The diocese encouraged anyone who attended masses at Holy Ghost to get tested as a precaution.
MOSCOW — The United States will send two planes with ventilators to Russia as a donation to help the country tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.
The move follows a “whole-hearted and genuine” offer U.S. President Donald Trump made last month to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov adds. According to Russian media, the shipment will include 200 breathing machines, 50 of which may be dispatched to Moscow on Wednesday.
Russia has reported nearly 300,000 infections and 2,837 deaths. Officials have scrambled to secure ventilators and other essential supplies amid an exponential growth in infections.
Russia sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. last month. Moscow says the U.S. paid for half of the medical supplies, while the other half of the cost was sponsored by Russia’s state investment fund.
GENEVA — Member states of the World Health Organization have unanimously passed a resolution brought by European Union members, African nations and others calling for an independent “comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak coordinated by the U.N. health agency.
The United States has sharply criticized the agency and its relationship with China, where the outbreak erupted.
Overnight, U.S. President Donald Trump listed concerns and criticism about the WHO to its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Nations rallied around the resolution that calls on the director-general to initiate “at the earliest appropriate moment” an evaluation that would “review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”
It was not immediately clear how, when or by whom that evaluation will be conducted.
The resolution pointed to the “role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good,” and called on international organizations to “work collaboratively” to produce safe, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines.
MOSCOW — Russia’s prime minister has fully resumed his duties after recovering from the coronavirus.
Mikhail Mishustin, 54, announced he was infected on April 30.
On Tuesday, Mishustin’s office says he’s checked out of the hospital and returned to his duties in the Cabinet headquarters. He’s set to take part in a video conference with President Vladimir Putin later in the day.
Several Cabinet ministers and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also have been infected. Peskov says he had double pneumonia caused by the virus. He noted he hadn’t met with Putin in person for more than a month.
Putin has limited public appearances and held most of his meetings online during the virus pandemic.
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